Sadly, approximately 2 million seniors living in the United States have been diagnosed with one or multiple depressive disorders. One of the leading causes of this depression has been linked to a lack of independence. In fact, approximately half of seniors who are living in an assisted living or nursing home facility have exhibited major signs of depression. Although not all nursing homes or assisted living facilities are bad institutions, it is a well known fact that with government cut backs and the rising cost of health care, patients in many nursing homes are not given the proper care to help them flourish and try to move forward with the rest of their life. For the most part, the aim is to keep them quiet, comfortable and alive. This means that they receive nothing more, nothing less than just the required care. Outside recreation, trips to places around town and regular time to themselves are necessary activities to keep a senior feeling happy and independent, but they are typically not part of the regular package of nursing home endeavors. Not being able to go about their days with a certain level of autonomy is a definite way to lead them into a depressed state.
One way to help seniors to regain their independence is to allow them to live at home. However, with the high cost of home health care, and the rarity of being able to have a family member stay at the home full-time, sometimes leaving a senior alone in their home is just not an option. They may have limited mobility, or other health issues that require someone to look in on them regularly. However, their health issues could strike at any time, and if they are alone when this happens, it could have much more dire or even deadly consequences. This will often lead to family members reluctantly placing their loved one in a nursing home or assisted living care facility, not always realizing that there are actually some less expensive options that will allow seniors to remain at home with limited home health care and supervision.
An option to help add more peace of mind to the situation is to invest in a medical alert system. A medical alert system will allow the senior to move about their home and go about their everyday activities with a sense of pride and a lack of fear. If an accident does occur, they will be wearing a medical alert bracelet, necklace or pendant that will allow them to call for help immediately if something were to happen. By having a medical alert system in the home to help seniors regain their autonomy, they will be able to see a rise in their self-esteem and a preserved sense of independence. This is a completely priceless feeling for a senior who may have previously been depressed, stuck in a nursing home, just hoping to make it through the day.
Common Symptoms of Depression in Seniors
Identifying that a senior is depressed is the first step to find out why they are feeling that way. Although a lack of independence is one of the top reasons why seniors suffer from depression, other factors may be involved, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms seniors may face, so that it may become easier to diagnose the root of their issue. Here are some of the most common signs of depression in seniors:
- An inability to sleep for a normal period of time during the night
- Constant sad mood where little-to-no change in mood ever occurs
- Complaining about their physical health constantly
- Contemplation of suicide
- Lack of appetite
- Feeling guilty over the past
- Increased forgetfulness
- Bitterness, Irritability
- Lack of energy
- Crying or tearing up without reason
- Inability to concentrate for more than a few moments at a time
Knowing the common symptoms will make it simpler to identify if a senior is in a depressed state or suffering from extreme depression and then work out that best way to help them move past it.
Lack of Independence As a Leading Cause of Senior Depression
Indeed, a lack of independence is one of the leading cause of depression in seniors. For 75% of those never returned to an independent lifestyle, end-of-life depression sets in which is not at all common in seniors, unless they are actually experiencing a terminal condition. This is a type of depression that sets in for many people when they find out they have a terminal illness and there is not much time left for them. For seniors that are not terminally ill, end-of-life depression has been linked to seniors that are living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities with little-to-no independent activities available to them.
In these cases, it is vital that the senior is moved to another location or brought home. When this is not possible, and the senior has to continue living in a place that takes so much autonomy away from them they might exhibit signs of depression, this is not a good situation. Often, end-of-life depression can lead to the end of someone's life.
The Role of a Medical Alert System in Providing Independence, Reducing Depression
A medical alert system can reduce depression by providing independence to those who use it. If a senior is experiencing depression while in a nursing home or assisted living facility, moving home and regaining their independence is a great way to combat that and help them begin to cope and possibly beat their depression. Sometimes hiring a home health nurse is out of reach financially, so a medical alert system to help provide peace of mind and a regained level of independence is a great alternative.