You might think that depression and aging go hand in hand. After all, more than 6 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from this debilitating condition. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is not a normal part of aging, and can cause serious problems for some seniors. If left untreated, depression can delay recovery and increase complications from other illnesses.
We have written about depression previously, and also about distinguishing between depression and dementia. There is also excellent information available in the Resources section of our web site under the topic Depression and Dementia Resources.
When it comes to the mental and physical well-being of your elderly loved one, companion care workers can be one of your best assets. Companion care workers are on hand to watch for signs of trouble, which include changes in eating and sleeping habits, increased and unaccounted for pain, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Perhaps more important, they provide a social outlet for homebound seniors who might otherwise have little interaction with people.
In-home companion care services can also monitor potential causes of depression, such as changing medications, the onset of illness, and lack of proper nutrition and exercise. If depression is discovered, having someone there to ensure a treatment plan is being followed is critical to its success. Staying in touch with your relative’s companion care worker will give you the opportunity to stop depression before it can gain a foothold in your loved one’s life.
Originally posted 2010-09-15 04:30:00.