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In general, we’re living longer than ever before: but does this mean we’re living happier, too? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults are particularly at risk of developing depression. This age group is also the most likely not to seek help for the depression symptoms they’re experiencing.
In the last year alone, depression among seniors those aged 65 plus in Florida rose by 36%, equivalent to about 680,000 people. What’s the solution? A few simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference to mental health. Gaining an awareness of the help available and how it can be accessed is vital, too. We explore more below.
Facts To Know About The Depression Among Seniors
Help Is At Hand
In its report, the CDC went on to say that part of the problem is that many seniors ‘do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.’ This is exacerbated by the fact that the symptoms of depression among seniors can often be mistaken, by sufferers, their families, and even healthcare workers, as the early signs of dementia.
Therapy and counseling are extremely effective ways to combat depression and, in many cases, can eradicate the problem entirely. At the very least, the sufferer can expect their symptoms to become manageable and significantly improve their overall quality of life.
There is now a range of therapy sessions that can be conducted online or via telephone – see here for a list of text therapy services – which may be particularly useful for seniors struggling with mobility issues. Recognizing depression symptoms for what they are and arranging to speak, either in-person or online, to a qualified therapist can make a profound difference, often resulting in a complete recovery.
About a third of older adults living in Florida are physically inactive, which is believed to be playing a significant role in the prevalence of depression rates and the speed with which they’re increasing.
While physical exercise may be challenging for seniors, there are plenty of ways to be more active in day-to-day life. Many classes are specifically geared for seniors, such as dance or yoga sessions. Swimming is also a low-impact exercise that is great for both body and mind.
Activities such as golf, lawn bowls, and curling could also be good options. Even everyday tasks, such as household chores and gardening, offer more physical activity opportunities.
Regular exercise has been proven to offer many benefits for physical and mental health. When we’re physically active, our brains flood our systems with endorphins, known as the happy hormone, which makes us feel good, decreases stress, and even makes us more likely to sleep better at night. All these things can protect against – or alleviate the symptoms of – depression.
The CDC also found a relatively high prevalence of smoking and excessive drinking among Florida seniors; while this could well be a result of experiencing depression, it could be the cause of symptoms, too.
Quitting smoking and ensuring alcohol is consumed within the recommended limits is vital in maintaining good health for every age group. For those experiencing depression, it may be necessary to have support if attempting to quit or cut down, and a healthcare provider will be happy to assist with this.
Feelings of isolation can be a particular problem for seniors, with mobility and other issues often making it harder to get out and about, meet friends, and generally socialize.
Making the most of tech can help: staying in regular touch with family via video calls or joining a virtual group can help older adults to stay connected and reduce the risk of developing depression. Many town centers, halls, and churches run coffee morning or craft groups for seniors, so getting involved with one of these is also a great way to make new friends and enjoy a new activity or just a chat.
Eating For Happiness
Our diet can have a profound effect on how we feel mentally as well as physically. Eating a poor diet can exacerbate existing depression conditions or make us more susceptible to developing depression.
Eating a wide variety of foods and plenty of fruit and veg is the aim. Certain foods have been connected to promoting good mood and overall wellness; avocados, dark chocolate, coconut, blueberries, salmon, and walnuts are just a few of the yummy options that can help us feel great inside and out.
The Signs Of Depression
It’s important to know the main signs of depression. If you notice these signs in yourself or a friend or loved one, then it’s important to seek advice from a doctor or healthcare professional to access support:
- Persistent low mood, feeling down, ‘flat,’ or despairing.
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness, or guilt.
- Loss of interest in things and activities that previously gave pleasure.
- Restlessness or having problems sitting still.
- Increased fatigue and loss of energy.
- Talking and moving more slowly than normal.
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Eating more or less than usual.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Making some of the lifestyle changes we’ve listed above can help you avoid depression as an older adult and live a happy, healthy – and long – life.