People often tie depression to younger adults, but the reality is it affects people of all ages. Older adults are just as likely to experience depression. Mental Health American estimates that over 2 million older Americans suffer from depression. The first week of October is Mental Illness Awareness Month and a good time to address depression in older adults. Here are a few things to consider about depression in seniors and how home care can help support them.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness where someone feels unimportant, worthless, pessimistic, and down without being able to state why. More importantly, they cannot get out of it and improve their mood. Signs of depression include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your mom is showing signs of depression, advocate for them. Doctors do not always ask the right questions or even take concerns seriously.

Depression is not just part of aging. It’s often tied to the loss of a spouse, unresolved trauma, changing health, lack of socialization, feeling isolated, and chronic pain from diseases like arthritis. However, there may not be a clear cause. Sometimes, depression stems from side effects of medications, a family history, brain changes, and nutritional deficiencies.

Don’t let your mom feel embarrassed or ashamed that she’s depressed. It’s more common than she might imagine. While women her age were told to be tough and put on a brave face, times have changed. The medical world knows more about depression than when she was a younger adult, so there are solutions out there that can help her.

What Can You Do to Help Her?

You suspect your mom is depressed, and it makes sense given her changing health. She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, so you understand why, but you don’t know what to do next. One thing is certain, don’t ignore her feelings. If her doctor isn’t taking it seriously, ask for a referral to a mental health specialist.

Let your mom vent when she needs to. If she wants to cry, be the shoulder for her to cry on and then look into a support group for Alzheimer’s families. You’ll both need the support as the disease progresses.

Talk to her doctor about medications that can help. If they don’t work, advocate for others. It does take time for many antidepressants to take effect, so make sure you have that information.

Support her but don’t become overbearing. Give her space when she needs it, but someone should be there when she doesn’t want to be alone. You’ll learn to read her mood. Don’t argue with her, if she is down, don’t tell her to cheer up. It’s not helpful and may stop her from wanting to share her feelings.

Ask your mom what she needs. She might want to get out of the house more. Make sure that’s possible by arranging to be there for her or arranging home care services. A home care aide can provide companionship when your mom goes out to explore a museum, tour a zoo, walk along a nature trail, or go out to eat.


If you or an aging loved one is considering in-home care in St. Paul, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.