We all feel blue sometimes, and thats OK. But when sadness and other symptoms interfere with our daily living, it might be something to address.As we age, we may be at increased risk for depression, but this treatable medical condition is not necessarily a normal part of getting older. Depression is not a character flaw. It is not a weakness. It is not your fault. It is an illness. While major life events such as bereavement can trigger it, depression is different from the negative feelings from a difficult life event. Depression causes feelings that are intense, chronic and out of proportion to circumstances. Depression can last for several weeks, months or years, often becoming a chronic illness like diabetes or hypertension that requires treatment. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.Undiagnosed depression can have a physical toll. The National Institutes of Health says that adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms have a 64% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than those without depression. Some people might be prone to depression due to their genetics, but there is no single cause of depression in older adults. The National Council on Aging lists these as some additional risk factors: Chronic conditions (about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, per the CDC) Decreased functional ability Reduced mobility Chronic pain Financial issues Elder abuse Caregiver stress Lack of physical activity Loneliness Symptoms of depression may differ across cultures, as well as by sex/gender. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. In men, depression often shows up as anger or irritability. Furthermore, symptoms of depression are often different from those in younger people. Sadness is not always the main symptom. It can be a feeling of numbness or lack of interest in activities, which is often attributed to age. Mental health professionals and healthcare providers may sometimes mistake symptoms as reactions to illness or life changes.There are several reasons why depression may be missed. Older adults may be isolated, with few around to notice their symptoms or distress. Also, many do not realize that physical pain can sometimes indicate depression. In addition, we may feel stigma admitting to mental health problems and may be reluctant to talk about feelings and ask for help. Certain medications and medical illnesses can bring on depression or have similar symptoms.As a result, it is important to understand the signs, symptoms and consequences of depression. According to the CDC, here are some of the potential symptoms of depression: Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness Anxiety and worry Irritability, restlessness Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable Fatigue and decreased energy Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions Insomnia, earlymorning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping Overeating or appetite loss Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment. Memory problems Lack of motivation and energy Slowed movement and speech Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene). Throughout our lives, we are told that lifestyle changes can improve health and wellness, including mental health. Meditation, breathing exercises and exercise can help people of any age.According to the National Institute on Aging, we can also lower the risk of depression by: Getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night Avoiding isolation and staying connected with friends and family Doing activities that make them happy Telling family, friends or a healthcare provider if they are developing depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat before it escalates. Health professionals can rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing symptoms of depression such as dementia, Parkinsons disease, heart disease or medication interactions. A primary care doctor can also screen for signs of depression and recommend treatment that might include medication, therapy or a combination of both.Many people with mild to moderate depression respond to psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches new ways of thinking and behavior, and changing habits that might contribute to depression. Finding the right medication to treat depression is similar to treating some other illnesses; it might take time to find the right medicine, particularly with age-related changes to metabolism and drug interactions. The most important thing to know if you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from depression is you are not alone. Depression can be treated. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Courtney L. Whitt, Ph.D. is Director of Behavioral Health at Healthcare Network, which offers behavioral health services as a routine part of comprehensive care and traditional counseling services. Healthcare Network provides quality primary care services for children and adults in locations throughout Collier County. To learn more or make an appointment, please call 239.658.3000 or visit HealthcareSWFL.org.
Top Tips for Reducing Elderly Anxiety at NightTrying to reduce elderly anxiety at night for a loved one? Read our top tips for the best ways to minimize elderly anxiety at night and improve their sleep quality.Alt Text: An Elderly Man Reminiscing (Image Source)Do you have an elderly loved one who experiences anxiety at night? Unfortunately, anxiety can become more common and impactful as we age, causing sleep disturbances and other issues. However, there are strategies that caregivers can use to help reduce anxiety in the elderly at night. This article will discuss tips for reducing elderly anxiety at night, including creating a relaxing environment, engaging in relaxation techniques, and utilizing innovative technologies. Read on to learn about assisting your senior family member in coping with their anxiety at night and improving their sleep quality.Related: Three Things to Consider When Taking Care of Your ParentsUnderstanding Elderly Anxiety at NightTo fully grasp nighttime anxiety in older adults, we must examine its causes and symptoms.The Causes of Anxiety in the Elderly at NightThere are various causes of anxiety in the elderly at night, some of which include:Health Concerns - Older adults may have concerns about their health, chronic illnesses, pain, and other age-related issues that can cause anxiety and worry at night.Loss of Independence - Aging can cause a loss of independence, which can be emotionally distressing and lead to anxiety.Fear of Falling - Older adults are at an increased risk of falling, which can cause anxiety and fear, especially at night when it is dark, and visibility is low.Loneliness and Isolation - Many older adults live alone, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can heighten at night with less social interaction and distractions.Financial Concerns - Older adults may worry about their financial stability, especially if they are retired and living on a fixed income.Medications - Certain medications can cause side effects such as insomnia, nightmares, and anxiety, which can be more pronounced at night.Cognitive Decline - As people age, Alzhermers, dementia, and cognitive decline can occur, which can cause confusion, disorientation, and anxiety at night.Past Traumatic Experiences - Older adults may have experienced traumatic events in their past, such as war, abuse, or loss of loved ones, which can cause anxiety and flashbacks at night.Click Here to see how teleCalm can stop late night calls!Identifying Anxiety Symptoms in Older AdultsAnxiety symptoms can manifest differently in older adults compared to younger individuals. Some common symptoms of anxiety in the elderly include:Excessive Worrying - Elderly individuals may excessively fret over health, finances, and various life aspects.Physical Symptoms - Anxiety may induce symptoms like increased heart rate, perspiration, trembling, and shortness of breath.Sleep Disturbances - Seniors with anxiety might struggle with falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or awakening too early.Irritability and Restlessness - Anxiety can lead to feelings of irritability, agitation, and restlessness in older adults.Avoidance Tendencies- Some seniors with anxiety might evade situations that exacerbate their anxious feelings, such as social gatherings or leaving the house.Memory Challenges - Anxiety can impact memory and focus, posing concerns for elderly individuals experiencing cognitive decline to some extent.Physical Complaints - Anxiety can cause physical complaints such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle tension.Late-Night and Repeated Calling - It is important to note that according to WebMD, these symptoms can also indicate other medical conditions, and a proper evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to determine the underlying cause.Top Tips for Reducing Elderly Anxiety at NightHere are some tips that can help reduce elderly anxiety at night:1 Using teleCalm's Repeat Dialing FeatureWith just a few simple steps, you can customize your preferences in the teleCalm Caregiver App to stop compulsive and repeated calls.Features of teleCalm's Repeat Dialing include:Customizable Settings: Choose the number of calls (2-5 times) and the specified period of time (15-60 minutes) before repeat dialing is activated.NotificationsGentle Messages to Your Loved OneNo Additional CostAlt Text: An Elderly Woman In Her Room (Image Source)2. Using teleCalm's Quiet Hours FeatureThe teleCalm's Quiet Hours feature can block incoming and outgoing calls during specific times. Here's how the Quiet Hours feature works:Customizable Settings - You can customize Quiet Hours in the teleCalm Caregiver App to activate during specific times, such as Nighttime Quiet Hours from 10 pm to 7 am.Default or Personalized Messages - Your loved one will hear a default message during Quiet Hours. You can also record a personalized message in your voice to reassure them.Easy to Set Up - Activate Quiet Hours under the Settings screen in the teleCalm Caregiver App. Select the time ranges for Daytime and Nighttime Quiet Hours. You can also adjust or turn off Quiet Hours anytime in the app.3. Establishing a Regular Sleep RoutineA consistent sleep schedule can help improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety at night. Encourage the elderly to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.4. Creating a Calming Sleep EnvironmentMake sure the bedroom is comfortable, quiet, and dark. Encourage the elderly to create a peaceful atmosphere by playing soothing music, using aromatherapy, or using a white noise machine.5. Limiting Caffeine and Alcohol IntakeEncourage the elderly to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, as these substances can interfere with sleep quality and contribute to anxiety.6. Developing a Relaxation RoutineMeditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation before bedtime.7. Addressing Underlying Medical ConditionsAddress any underlying medical conditions contributing to anxiety at night, such as pain, urinary urgency, or respiratory distress.8. Talking to a Healthcare ProfessionalEncourage the elderly to seek professional help if their anxiety at night is severe or interfering with their daily activities. A mental health professional or physician can provide appropriate treatment options.Click Here to Contact teleCalm Today and Start Stress Free Phone Service!Alt Text: An Elderly Gentleman Holding a Colorful Ball (Image Source)Use a Mixed Approach to Help Combat Elderly Anxiety at NightElderly anxiety at night is a common issue that can significantly impact their quality of life. Fortunately, there are several strategies that caregivers can use to help alleviate anxiety in the elderly at night, such as establishing a regular sleep routine, creating a relaxing environment, engaging in relaxation techniques, and seeking professional help. Additionally, teleCalm offers solutions such as the Repeat Dialing feature, which can help reduce compulsive and repeated callsthe Quiet Hours feature, which blocks incoming and outgoing calls during specific times. With a mixed approach incorporating lifestyle changes and innovative technologies, caregivers can help their loved ones manage anxiety and improve their overall well-being.Related: My Mom is Calling at 3AM
Whats the key to aging well? Its just one factor of many, but engaging with spirituality and religion consistently improves quality of life for seniors, leading to several positive effects. At Amira Choice, strongly believe in the value of spiritual support. With that in mind, here are five benefits to embracing spirituality later in life.PurposeAs we age, transitioning out of our careers and moving past the years when were most needed as parents, it becomes extremely important to find new ways of engaging, exploring, and encouraging others. Research is showing that spirituality can play a part in helping seniors with healthy, positive aging by providing a sense of structure and understanding for our lives. Connecting to something larger than ourselves, serving others, and thinking beyond our own situation can truly improve the quality of our days.CommunitySeniors with spiritual support gain access to the rich community that characterizes faith groups. Pursuing connections and investing in relationships, new and old, makes every day worth celebrating. By attending worship services, joining book or Bible studies, and sharing open conversations with other members of our faith, we form and strengthen relationships that enhance our lives and when a senior living community supports and encourages religious involvement, the social benefits spread throughout the community.HopeSeeing challenges arise in our life and the lives of the people we love can be difficult to manage. How we handle those challenges, and maintain a sense of hope in the face of them, has big implications for our health in later years. Spirituality and religion can provide a strong support, lifting our spirits when we need it most. Connecting to faith gives seniors a mental boost to cope with illness and loss and helps them maintain the positivity that leads to recovery and new beginnings.BrainpowerKeeping our brains active and engaged as we age is hugely important, and spirituality provides a jolt to our brainpower. Studies have shown that practicing religion helps to slow cognitive decline, and for seniors living with dementia and other forms of memory loss, it can help reduce or stabilize cognitive disorders. Improving our mental capacity means improving every aspect of our life, from our health to our relationships and our daily activities.HealthAlong with increasing brain function and offering an outlet for personal connection, religion and spirituality provide real psychological benefits that help improve health outcomes overall. Seniors who rely on faith enjoy a more positive and hopeful attitude about life and illness, which actually predicts better health outcomes. They are less likely to develop depression and anxiety, and because of their renewed sense of purpose, they tend to have healthier habits and relationships. In short, belief, positivity, and hope lead to tangible improvements in our health and wellness.At Amira Choice, our faith-based programming is ecumenically diverse, and were blessed to have residents and staff from a variety of religious traditions. Visit the Amira Choice community near you and ask about the spiritual programing we provide transportation to, or offer in-house.