Recognizing Late-Life Depression
Dora spent much of her day in bed - in a heavy gray fog. Many days, she let the phone and doorbell ring without answering them. In the kitchen, dishes, mail, and trash piled up, but she was too weak to clean or care.
Excessive sleep and a lack of energy are warning signs of a serious but treatable disease called depression.
Older adults face increased risks for depression. Surprisingly this common illness frequently goes undetected and untreated in late life.
“Coexisting medical conditions, complicated medication regimes, and painful losses sometimes mask the symptoms of depression in late life,” says Janet Linton, M.D, medical director of Senior Behavioral Health at Mobile Infirmary, located in Mobile, and North Baldwin Infirmary, located in Bay Minette. “Some of the most visible signs of depression,” Dr. Linton says, “are significant changes in appetite, sleep, and energy level.”
These symptoms should always be reported to your physician. A checklist of other warning signs of depression follows. If someone experiences a number of these symptoms for more than two weeks in a row, it is time to see a doctor.
Many people - especially those who grew up in times or places where mental health problems were viewed as personal, religious, or moral failings—have difficulty talking about the emotional symptoms of depression. “ You can start by talking to your doctor about your physical symptoms,” says Dr. Linton “then move on to changes in moods or thoughts.”
Many people first see their family doctors for help with depression. There are, however, many mental health specialists who also treat depression:
Counselors and therapists
To find a mental health specialist, contact your local hospital, community mental health center, or senior center.
A little preparation can make that first visit to the doctor or therapist go smoother:
Make a list of your symptoms.
Write down your questions.
Take a list of the medications you take and their dosages.
If you feel anxious about the appointment, ask someone to go with you. If possible, take notes during your visit. That way it will be easier to recall your doctor’s recommendations.
Depression can be successfully treated at any age. The most effective treatments are medication and psychotherapy.
Medications for depression are safe and effective, with very few side effects. They help improve mood, sleep, appetite, energy, and concentration.
Psychotherapy is private counseling with a trained professional. It helps you overcome the effects depression has on your moods, thought, and relationships. These treatments may be used separately or in combination. “With proper treatment,” says Linton, “most people experience relief from the symptoms of depression within a few weeks.”
Warning Signs of Late-Life Depression
This article was submitted by Janet Linton, M.D., Medical Director Senior Behavioral Health at Mobile Infirmary and North Baldwin Infirmary. For more information contact North Baldwin Infirmary at Infirmaryhealth.org or 251-580-1770
Do you remember the feeling of falling in love?The little sparks when you held hands, or the butterflies you felt in your stomach when you knew you really liked someone. Well, you should know that opportunities for love dont go away just because youre older. Maybe you feel youve run out of thoughtful date ideas, or perhaps you arent even sure what fun activities are available now. At Home Care Associates, we are taking that stress away by sharing a few easy suggestions, thereby helping you and all seniors leave the door open for love.Have a Coffee DateYou might be surprised to know that sometimes a change of scenery can make all the difference! Maybe sitting down for coffee or tea is something you frequently do at home. If so, consider shaking things up by visiting a local coffee shop with your partner. While there, you can both try new drinks and pastries or have fun choosing for each other. Have fun going to a new place and making an ordinary activity feel new and exciting. Make sure to check with the coffee shops ahead of time to learn about senior specials that may be taking place soon.Go on a PicnicOne activity that seniors often enjoy is a picnic on a beautiful day. This date option comes with endless ways to make it perfect. For food, you can opt for a homemade meal and snacks or pick up dishes from a favorite restaurant before heading to your picnic spot.And in mentioning the perfect spot, countless places are excellent for picnicking! For example, is there a beach to sit at nearby thats quiet or a park with a nice walking path? Whether your answer is yes or no, you and your partner will have a wonderful time picnicking in different places around your area. Click here to see where the best picnic spots are in each state so that no matter where you are, this date option is always available.Take a Class TogetherIf you and your partner are more adventurous, you might have fun stepping out of your comfort zones for a date. Trying a new activity as a couple might be just the thing! Helping each other learn something new by taking a class together is a great way to bond and strengthen your connection. Check around your local community and at senior centers for upcoming art or dance classes. Then, if youre feeling brave, enroll yourself and your partner!Live and Love with Home Care Associates Whether you are trying to keep your relationship with a spouse exciting or make connections with new people, being a senior shouldnt make it difficult. Love should be fun no matter how old you are. The best part is its good for you too! The special someone in your life can become a companion, and the relationship you build can strengthen your mental and emotional health. If you know a senior who wants to receive in-home care services from a company that will encourage them to embrace their independence, Home Care Associates is the perfect fit! So, give our team a call today at (205) 206-9594 to learn about our services in Birmingham and Mobile, AL.
Assisted Living: The MeadowsAt each of our four assisted living facilities, we are committed to bringing the best life has to offer for your latter years. Senior care is not synonymous with a nursing home. There are other options for you or your loved one when the time comes to consider transitioning from the home to a higher level of care. Perhaps you or your loved one is not at a stage in his or her life where a skilled nursing facility is needed but remaining in the home is not the best option. Assisted living options are available to help those who find themselves in between being at home and needing the services of a nursing home. It's important to understand what assisted living is and how it differs from round the clock care in a nursing home. At The Meadows, our assisted living locations across the southern portion of Alabama, we provide a variety of services to those we serve, such as: -Assistance with daily needs, such as bathing, dressing and personal care. In addition, we provide help with housekeeping and laundry, as well as transportation services. We are able to assist you or your loved one at whatever level he or she needs when it comes to these services. -Managing medication needs. Our trained staff is available to help make sure medications are taken as directed by your healthcare provider. -Activities to keep life interesting and fun - such as games, arts and crafts, day trips and exercise. The activities we offer our residents help them to easily become a part of our assisted living community, while quickly making new friends. -A safe living environment with the senior adult is top of mind at The Meadows. Our facilities utilize safeguards such as grab bars, call systems and other features to keep you safe at all times and our living spaces take into account those who may need accommodations for wheelchairs and/or walkers. -Meals that are nutritious and delicious. Our staff provides delectable menus and scrumptious snacks for our residents. We also adhere to dietary needs for those who need special meals for management of diabetes, heart disease and more. At The Meadows, we want you or your loved one to enjoy life with assistance as needed and on your own terms. We can provide the needed level of quality care and assistance for the duration of your time in assisted living. This article was submitted by The Meadows with four locations in Alabama - Atmore, Brewton, Jackson & Monroeville.
In senior living communities, the employees strive daily to bring a bit of joy back to someones life. Not many people acknowledge the impact that having a pet can have on you until you can no longer have one. Many also do not know the outstanding opportunities offered to communities nationwide to allow seniors and pets to interact further and the benefits this can have on both parties.Betsy is one of the seniors with these benefits in North Naples, FL. Each month, caregivers witness the wide grin that spreads across Betsys face when bunnies visit the assisted living community where she resides. She spends the hour holding and petting the bunnies, talking to them while continuously smiling. They are so sweet. I love these bunnies, Betsy says with one in her lap.Health organizations worldwide have long documented the benefits of pets for seniors. Having a pet therapy team visit or pets residing within a senior community can combat loneliness and isolation while also bringing comfort and companionship to the residents. These animals can also reduce stress while promoting overall health and wellness. The American Heart Association Journal acknowledged that the relationship between seniors and pet ownership reduced cardiovascular disease problems. Recent reports have suggested an association of dog companionship with lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished sympathetic responses to stress.There are several ways seniors and pets can interact, even if they can no longer fully care for their own: Visitation Therapy: Visitation therapy is one of the most common ways associated with senior communities. This program allows animals to visit older adults in a senior living community, retirement community, or their homes. The pets, in this case, are usually either certified pets that people will bring to these communities or older shelter animals who also crave this attention. Animal-assisted Therapy: There is also animal-assisted therapy where seniors are paired with animals that help them with physical skills and build confidence. With this, animals not only provide people with some time to enjoy their company but also assist on walks, movement, and more. In-Home Pet: There is pet ownership for seniors who can care for a pet. While not many communities allow residential pets, some have been known to make the exception and allow their residents to have smaller animals residing with them.Betsy owned pets as a child and younger adult. One of the aspects of moving into a community that was difficult for Betsy was the lack of her pets and the daily interaction that came with having one. On the days when the bunnies arrive, Betsy is more talkative with others and animated. The pet visits help with her social skills, lessen anxiety, and bring her great happiness. Providing seniors with these interactions not only gives them something to look forward to, but also companionship for those who do not thrive in social situations. Brian Wierima, community relations coordinator for the Gulf Coast Humane Society, helps run a Senior to Senior program in Lee County. Volunteers with the humane society take older dogs to five local senior living facilities in the community.We try to have these seniors interact with senior dogs, eight years or older, Wierima began. They are calmer. Their behavior and manners are better and it pairs well.The dogs go to recreation rooms for larger group visits or to individual rooms for seniors who do not wish to participate in larger groups. Providing both a group setting and an isolated environment allows individuals to take advantage of this event while not pushing seniors into situations that might make them uncomfortable.The seniors just love it, Wierima exclaimed. It is great for both our senior dogs and the seniors. There are benefits both ways. It is a very beneficial program. By the time you leave, you see the results. There are smiles. Also, it breaks up a routine for the residents, and many of them previously owned pets. In many of the senior residential homes, they cant have pets, so having some time with a dog fills that void they lost.It has become more common for humane societies to provide programs that encourage seniors to take these available times with the animals to fill a gap they might be missing. In some instances, if allowed, it also promotes adopting or fostering these senior pets. Gulf Coast Humane Society is one of the partners offering authorized communities animal fostering. They provide a senior fostering program where a senior citizen can temporarily take care of a dog or cat. All the food and transportation are provided. This removes some of the cost concerns while allowing the senior citizens and pets the comfort of each other. Wierima says this has many benefits, The animal gives the senior a routine, it gets them exercise. It gets them outside to take walks, he said.Weirma believes strongly that this addition to their communities activities has dramatically impacted their seniors. Cheryl Gregson, activities director at an assisted living facility in North Naples, has brought dogs, rabbits, horses, wolves, parrots and Trooper the raccoon to visit her seniors. She also has four parakeets that live in the common area.Its so important, Gregson stressed. Whenever a pet, any kind of pet, comes into the room, everybody lights up; everybody smiles, everybody is happy. It makes a difference.Betsy is not the only senior who has benefited from pet therapy activities. Across the nation, hundreds of communities provide similar opportunities to their residents, and the number continues to grow. Are seniors in your area looking for similar pet interaction options? Contact your local senior advisor today for more information on how to provide this in your community, or with assistance finding a community that does.
Senior Behavioral HealthAt our senior behavioral services centers in Mobile and Bay Minette, we strive to provide encouraging and individualized care to evaluate and treat behavioral and mental problems aging brings. Our assessments, services and care are geared towards ensuring your loved is as mentally and physical fit as possible as they age.What Is Senior Behavioral Health?The practice of senior behavioral health medicine seeks to provide psychiatric support and treatment to those elderly adults who suffer from behavioral, mental or emotional problems because of the losses associated with the aging process. Physicians and psychologists specializing in this field seek to provide living and caring therapy and treatment options to help the elderly work through the aging process and be as mentally health and stable for as long as they can.Our staff seeks to treat elderly individuals with emotional illnesses such as:Sleeping too much or not being able to sleepConstantly cryingRefusing to eat or eating too muchBeing forgetfulNot wanting to be around other peopleAlways being sadAdmitted to being suicidalNot caring about how they lookWhat We Can Do to HelpOur state-of-the-art senior behavioral health centers in Mobile and Bay Minette provide a compassionate and supportive environment where elderly patients are provided the therapy and care they need to thrive later in life.The services we provide includes an initial evaluation to determine the cause, emotional or biomedical, of the behavioral change or disorder. After the initial evaluation, an individualized treatment program is formed which could include group therapy, individual therapy, lifestyle training, monitoring by social workers, education programs and assessment and care of secondary needs.Holistic, Family Centered TreatmentInfirmary Healths senior behavioral unit seeks to give family members the ability to be involved in their loved ones treatment process as well as ensure that the elderly patient has a strong support group surrounding them.What to Expect from Senior Behavioral HealthThe Senior Behavioral Health units at Mobile Infirmary and North Baldwin Infirmary provide 24-hour care inpatient hospitalization program. With admissions occurring 24 hours a day, initial assessments and treatment plans are conducted by specialist psychiatrists and physicians, respectively. The units are also staffed by mental health professionals to ensure that your loved receives the very best of care. Even after discharge, our staff of physicians seek to provide supportive care by developing an ongoing care plan, providing outpatient therapy, and even a day hospital program. The goal is to ensure that the patient lives life to the fullest as they age.If Your Elderly Loved One Is Struggling With Mental Illness, We Can Help