In our society, we have long overlooked mental health. There has always been a stigma to mental health and, sadly, that still exists today. Happily, however, we are slowly but surely removing that stigma. No longer do we encourage people to hide their mental and emotional troubles because we know that only makes them worse. We encourage people to talk about their issues and to see a therapist if necessary. But what about seniors?
Seniors And Mental Health
There are two big obstacles to dealing with seniors’ mental health properly. The first is that seniors often have physical health issues. Physical problems are a lot easier to see than mental or emotional ones. If you have a parent who is in or nearing their senior years, you might look for signs that they are slowing down, signs of physical problems. You might not be looking for signs of depression, because depression is hard to see. But it’s just as much a threat. Second, seniors grew up in a different time when that stigma against mental health problems was much stronger than it is today. It can be difficult to get them to open up about their problems. What should we do?
Isolation, Loneliness, And Depression
Seniors live in isolation at frighteningly high rates. Isolation looks different for every person. What might be a healthy and acceptable amount of contact with others for some might be far too low for another, so you have to judge it on a case-by-case basis. But let’s face it: by the time you retire, you’ve lived long enough that many of your friends and family have moved away, or you have. You don’t see friends or family that often and you no longer see coworkers. This can become dangerous. Things can get especially bad if you’re single and especially if your partner has recently passed away. Though it is important to note that elderly couples can become isolated from the outside world together. This isolation can breed loneliness which can lead to depression which can lead to a whole host of physical problems. What can you do about it?
One solution might be to encourage your elderly loved ones to move into a senior care facility, such as a retirement home or assisted living community. This way, they’ll always be around others. This might work for some seniors, but others will hate the idea. They might not want to move out of their homes and these facilities can be expensive. What’s the answer then?
The answer is in-home companionship. Senior care is not just about helping seniors get dressed or go to the bathroom. It can be about engaging with them mentally and emotionally. A caregiver can come by to visit with seniors in their homes as often as needed. In-home companionship can consist of playing card games, encouraging seniors to get outside and to meet up with people, going through old photo albums, and just talking to them. Even if you live in the same city as your elderly loved one and can meet with them often, in-home companionship might be a good idea because it can be easier to talk about some matters with an unbiased third party.
To learn more about in-home companionship, please contact us.