Some adult children or family members who care for elderly parents or loved ones may experience changes in the mental health status of their aging loved ones. According the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, more than 6.5 million adults over the age of 65 are affected by depression. Depression is a physical disorder of the brain that if not treated, can become a life-threatening illness.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression risks among aging adults increase with illness and limited function. The NIMH also estimates that depression among the elderly is 5 percent or below, but the rates rise to 13.5 percent in aging adults needing home care services. This percentage increase can be attributed to life-limiting illness, decreased brain cognition, pain, physical limitations and restricted access to social support and health services due to barriers such as mobility or illness. According to the NIMH, depression among elderly hospital inpatients is about 11.5 percent. Additional causes of depression among older adults can be attributed to grief from the passing of a loved one, decreased independence, financial difficulty, poor nutrition and medication side effects.
In addition to seeking mental health treatment from a healthcare provider, arranging home care support for an aging adult with signs of late-life depression can help with a loved one’s recovery from the disease. Here is some information on how home care can help safeguard the emotional and mental well-being of an aging parent or loved one with symptoms of depression:
Caregivers provide assistance with daily living activities that aging adults with limited mobility may require such as bathing, dressing walking and physical therapy exercises. In addition, home care visits offer aging adults with household help and companionship providing them with an added support network in addition to their families. These methods of physical and social support can help to prevent the emotional symptoms that may contribute to or worsen depression.
- Nutritional Needs: Are the cupboards bare or untouched? Home care providers can help to combat depression symptoms such as lack of energy or unhealthy and irregular eating habits by assisting clients with errands such as trips to the grocery store and light meal preparation. This helps your loved one combat nutritional deficiency that can contribute to depression. Having a mealtime companion present with your loved one can increase their overall appetite and food consumption as this turns mealtime into a social event.
- Medication Management: Are you worried about your loved one's ability to self-administer the correct dosages of medication at the correct times? A home care aide can remind them to take the correct medications in a timely manner, including antidepressants. This confirms that treatment is properly administered on time and that complications will not arise from missed doses.
- Mobility and Memory: Is memory or mobility an issue for your parent or loved one? Home care aides provide assistance with errands to ensure the house is stocked with necessities. They can also assist clients with light housekeeping which can be overwhelming for an aging adult with chronic pain or limited mobility. This type of assistance can increase the client’s feelings of independence.
- Keeping up with healthcare needs: Are you a caregiver managing a parent or loved one's health from a long distance location? Holy Redeemer HomeCare Aides can work with the assigned Holy Redeemer Nurse to maintain contact with the physician, as needed, should a client’s health status change. Does your loved one frequently forget to attend doctor’s appointments or fail to schedule routine checkups? Caregivers can set and remind clients of doctor’s appointments to ensure the preventative care they need is within reach. In addition to physical health status changes, home care aides can recognize and report worsening depression symptoms to the client’s healthcare team.
- Peace of mind for caregivers: In addition to providing assistance to home care clients, the support that home care services provides can help to reduce the stress of being a remote or on-site caregiver to an aging parent or loved one. This can help to reduce the amount of stress on the family and your aging loved one.
To learn more about Holy Redeemer Support at Home, call 215-698-3719 for a FREE phone consultation.
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