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Depression is a common issue amongst senior citizens. Seniors are continuously experiencing both physical and psychological changes due to an inability to adjust or cope with major life occurrences. Depression can be alarming to the entire family and more often than not, they will get themselves involved in taking care of their loved ones. It can be challenging, but as a family, you can work together to find the best way to handle it.


Symptoms of depression

Depression is one of the most common issues that can go unnoticed. Many symptoms can show up in the early stages of depression including:

  • Consistent sadness or crying

  • Slowed speech and movements

  • Wringing of hands

  • Uncooperativeness and social withdrawal

  • Hostility and suspiciousness

  • Low moods and feeling of helplessness

  • Loss of motivation and self-esteem

  • Self-criticism and self-blame

  • Decreased sense of lifelong accomplishment

  • Agitation and aggression

  • Anxiety

There are also some physiological manifestations of depression. You will often hear complaints of:

  • Headaches

  • Backaches

  • Joint pains

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Concentration or memory distress

If most of these symptoms are observed, be sure to consult a physician in order to complete further diagnostic tests and to rule out other problems.

How can the family help?

The best way you can help senior citizens adjust or cope with depression is by alleviating both contributory factors and symptoms.

Alleviating contributory factors

This will improve the physical and psychosocial functioning of seniors to help relieve depression:

  • Oftentimes, depression is due to the effects of illness. Alleviating the signs and symptoms of the existing disease is already targeting depression.

  • Preventing and minimizing complications or disability brought about by chronic illness is also another way of improving overall bodily functions of depressed seniors.

  • If drugs or medications are causing depression, consult your doctor for other options.


Studies have shown that strong social support positively and significantly affects the mental health of seniors. Showing love and support can only help the situation.

  • Treat your loved one as a functional member of the family with consideration of their limited capabilities. Provide them with a meaningful role, such as getting them involved in the care of the children.
  • Some seniors become happier when their social circle expands. In this case, it might be worthwhile allowing them to get involved in some activities that may enhance their self-esteem. Your loved one can be encouraged to become an active member of their local senior association or they can join volunteer religious services in the church.
  • Encourage him/her to engage in activities he/she likes most. Try introducing favorite activities. For example, if the senior used to enjoy painting, encourage him/her to draw. Supply the necessary equipments. Some prodding or a little pat on the back when they succeed can definitely help.
  • For some, exercises to improve functional capacity could help. Putting up an exercise program would not only relieve the depression, but would also be good on a senior’s overall health.

More than the physical care, the family provides emotional support which includes helping seniors cope with pain, distress and other altered functional conditions. If the family remains the primary provider of informal care for seniors, consult a doctor or therapist that can assist you in the progression of this condition.

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