Tag Archive for: depression

senior depression

Tips for Seniors Dealing with Depression During the Holidays

The holidays can bring both joy and loneliness for seniors. WelbeHealth offers tips to help cope with feelings of sadness, loss, and health issues during this special time.

Managing Sadness and Grief Over the Holidays

Although it is not uncommon for people of all ages to experience some degree of sadness over the holidays, be it from having been isolated during the pandemic or having experienced the loss of a loved one, older adulthood is a time of greatest risk and could result in substantial increases in death by suicide. For this very reason, it is encouraged to start a conversation with a friend, family, therapist, or another medical professional about how your mood is going and if you might be experiencing some degree of depression. This is not to say that most seniors are depressed, but we do recognize that the experience of declining health or mobility, plus the shrinking of one’s natural support system due to loss, can raise the sense of loneliness and despair.

Warning Signs

In their toolkit for suicide prevention among seniors, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration identifies the following warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated, behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

If you experience any one or more of these behaviors, please reach out to your doctor or mental health professional they can listen to your thoughts and feelings around these matters.

From conducting one of the longest-running support groups at WelbeHealth in Stockton, Forever Friends, I can attest that not only do other seniors share your concerns, but they are ready to help out whenever possible

– Randall Ramírez, LCSW, LMFT | Behavioral Health Specialist

Strategies for Coping

As an alternative way of approaching the holidays, seniors can:

Be Proactive

Becoming more proactive in planning ahead on how they want to celebrate the season and how they can build special celebrations or memorials around those loved ones who have passed on or who are distant from them.

Sharing Memories

This may include raising a toast at the holiday dinner table to the lost family member or friend and asking others to offer one cherished memory. Or it may involve setting a place for them at the table and reminiscing.

Making a Donation

It could also be as simple as setting up a spot to collect donations to the loved one’s favorite charity. All these approaches not only honor the person we lost, but they create a space for acknowledging our collective sadness and feelings.


We hold onto the belief that seniors retain talents, strengths, and skills into their later years that can be shared with others. Because seniors are living longer, we also support the idea of embracing quality of life and progressing with your dreams into the Golden Years. Joining a group that hosts activities, whether at a Senior Center or local club, aim at creating strong connections and bonds with fellow seniors.

Seniors sitting on a bench

Depression in Seniors: What Caregivers Should Know

Feeling down is a normal part of life. We all have days we feel sad. But, if your loved ones’ sadness is continuous, they could be suffering from depression.

Depression is not a normal part of aging. Watch for any signs of depression. If your aging loved one shows symptoms, you can help them get the treatment they need to enjoy life again.

What Causes Depression in Seniors?

About 1% to 5% of older adults are depressed. If your loved one requires home care, they’re at an increased risk for depression. For seniors who need home health care or hospitalization, the number rises to 13.5%.

Several factors can lead to depression in seniors. These include:

Death of loved ones. Losing a spouse, child, dear friend, or beloved pet can lead to depression. Grieving a loss is normal, but becoming depressed is not. It is important to recognize the difference between grief and depression.

Health challenges. A chronic medical condition can cause depression in seniors. For example, experiencing constant physical pain or disability can lead to depression, or worsen previously diagnosed depression.

Medication side effects. Multiple medications can sometimes interact with each other and cause depression. Medication is can be processed differently in the elderly because our bodies become less efficient at metabolizing drugs as we age. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you think a medication may be causing depression in your loved one.

Loss of independence and purpose. People find joy and meaning in their work, volunteer activities, and social circles. Your loved one may be deprived of these joys due to a medical condition or a loss of community.

Symptoms of Depression in Seniors

Identifying depression in seniors begins with knowing the common signs and symptoms. These can include:

  • Disregarding personal care and hygiene
  • Frequent thoughts of death and suicide
  • Increased aches and pains
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Disinterest in hobbies and socialization
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Reduced motivation and energy
  • Insomnia
  • Constant sadness and despair
  • Difficulty focusing

Rona Lomeda is a Complex Case Nurse for the seniors in WelbeHealth’s PACE services. During her 30 years of experience in behavioral health and senior care, she’s become familiar with the red flags of depression in seniors.

“If a senior lives alone and is constantly feeling sad or hopeless, those are some early signs of depression,” she said.

Types of Depression Experienced by Older Adults

Several types of depression may affect seniors. These forms of depression are slightly different, but all are treatable with the help of a medical and mental health professional.

Major Depressive Disorder: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Your loved one may experience a depressed mood every day for 14 days or longer. MDD may be a single episode, or it may reoccur.

Persistent Depressive Disorder: Also called dysthymia, this is a long-term depressed mood. It may last for at least two years. The severity of the depression may lessen at times, but your loved one will exhibit a chronically depressed mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: During the fall and winter months, there is less daylight, and we don’t get out as much due to the cold. As a result, seniors may experience depression during this season.

Treatment for a Senior with Depression

Getting treatment for a senior with depression can help them get back to enjoying life and prevent the worsening of symptoms. Untreated depression has is linked to chronic heart failure in the elderly, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

“Depression can become worse if it is left untreated,” said Lomeda. “Getting seniors the support they need can make all the difference.”

Speaking with your loved one and their doctor about your concerns can be an initial step to getting treatment. From there, the physician can diagnose the condition and provide appropriate treatment.

Typical treatment for a senior with depression can include speaking with a licensed mental health professional. This can help your loved one work through challenging thoughts and emotions. The professional can also give your loved one tools to manage their depression. In addition, a physician or psychiatrist may prescribe antidepressant medication. These medicines work by balancing hormones in the brain that affect mood.


Resources: https://porch.com/advice/senior-safe-home