Clinical depression is commonly found in elderly adults, though it is not a normal part of the aging process. Many seniors choose to transition into long term care homes such as assisted living communities as their care needs increase. While many services are offered in assisted living facilities, many families wonder if there are homes that are dedicated to the care of seniors who suffer from depression.
Senior depression is more than being sad for a short time or being disappointed over an event. It is an actual disorder that affects the mood and requires regular treatment to help manage its effects. Not every older adult appears to be sad when they are depressed, and not all seniors who have clinical depression respond to treatment in the same way. This complex condition affects the feelings and thoughts of a person and can even stop them from living their life in a normal manner.
Seniors who suffer from depression are even harder to treat than younger adults. Some seniors will develop depression as they age, and others will have battled with the condition their entire lives. As people age, completing daily tasks can become more difficult due to poor health, issues with mobility and memory conditions. When you add depression into the mix, simply bathing, eating, or getting dressed in the morning can seem like an insurmountable hill.
Some families who are new to searching for a care facility may be wondering: what is assisted living? Assisted living is a long-term residential care facility for seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves independently. Assisted living for seniors with depression is the same, but with more focus on caring for the mental and emotional needs of the elderly as well as their physical needs. These care homes offer a continuum of extended-term senior care services that are crafted to offer support for seniors in a way that allows them to remain partially independent.
Assisted living centers can be stand-alone communities that resemble retirement homes, senior living apartments, or country clubs, or they can be attached to a nursing home. The accommodations in assisted living vary widely to fit a wide range of cultures and lifestyles. Some communities are religious-based, while others cater to specific types of seniors within the elderly retirement community. There are homes for those who need dedicated memory care as well as those who suffer from various disabilities such as wheelchair-bound, hearing impaired and mentally and physically disabled,. Assisted living facilities are set up in a way that takes these concerns into account when creating a care plan and social activities for their senior residents.
As of last year, according to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the cost of assisted living nationwide averages out to just a little over $4,000 per month. Of course, this amount can go up or down depending on where in the country you live, what level of care you need, and any other additional services you or your loved one require. Most need-based fees are separate from the base cost of the room, and some amenities are not included in the base amount as well. Room and board, meals, daily care, and medication management are included in the base rate at assisted living homes all across the nation.
Seniors that require specialized care such as those who have a depression, a memory condition, those who have mobility concerns, and those who are in need of mental health treatment may have to pay an additional fee to cover these ancillary services. There are benefits to choosing an assisted living home that offers these additional services on top of their regular senior care. Assisted living communities that specialize in a specific group of residents will have more experience in dealing with the condition as well as the staff who are better trained to understand the symptoms and treatments involved in their care.
Assisted living for seniors with depression offers a diverse range of support for seniors that need assistance. The caregivers help with daily living activities that include:
In addition, the above basics, 24-hour supervision, limited health services, and transportation to and from doctors’ appointments are also provided. Assisted living for seniors who suffer from depression will often offer counseling services either on-site or with a visiting doctor on a set schedule. This will allow seniors to get the help they need during their good days and their bad days without an interruption in their care. The care management teams in assisted living communities help to craft a plan along with the senior’s regular doctor that will help them thrive in any circumstance, regardless of their depression.
For senior residents in assisted living who are struggling with clinical depression, the caregiver team may conduct periodic assessments to help form a better comprehensive care plan to addresses personal care, nutrition, socialization, as well as offer closer supervision.
As a senior, there are many health complications that become a concern. A steady loss in mobility, vision, hearing, and even a loss of cognitive faculties are often seen. Many seniors also have to deal with developed conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, alcoholism or even harsher ailments such as cancer. When you add depression to the equation, aging becomes a chore rather than a journey. Aside from the personal suffering that accompanies depression, when the condition presents itself later in life, it brings with it additional health risks.
Some of these risks include constant thoughts of attempts at suicide, social isolation, illness, and more. Living in an assisted living community that is familiar with senior depression can help mitigate these risks. The amenities and personal care provided help give seniors with depression the attention they need while also giving families the peace of mind they have been looking for. Some of the benefits of moving into an assisted living home for seniors with depression are explained in further detail below.
Nutrition plays a big role in mental and physical health. Assisted living homes offer three to four flavorful nutrient-rich meals that can help in warding off depressive episodes. In addition to removing the stress of cooking and cleaning, meals can be tailored to meet the specific medical needs of each resident. Caregivers are able to offer each senior personalized care; however, they also encourage residents to care for themselves to maintain their independence. Sometimes, an encouraging word from a friendly face is enough to help spur a senior to self-care. In those times where assistance is needed, those same friendly faces are eager to lend a compassionate hand. This not only ensures that seniors get the help they need, but it also improves their quality of life in safety.
Many people who suffer from depression, regardless of their age, often find maintaining a home to be overwhelming. Weighting responsibility can prevent the progress of their mental health, and moving to a specialized assisted living home can remove the burden. In a senior care home, the meals, housekeeping, and laundry are all managed by the facility. Meals can be taken in the common room, or privately according to the wishes of the resident. Friends and family are able to visit without the pressure to prepare the space or set out special arrangements. Caregivers in the facility handle everything, so all the senior has to do is enjoy their time with their loved ones in a stress-free environment.
Seniors with depression that live alone are at a higher risk of becoming socially isolated. This can increase the feelings of despair and loneliness and further allow them to sink into depression. In an assisted living community, there are many other seniors in close proximity as well as scheduled social events to keep seniors actively engaged. Aside from group events, there are also opportunities to invest time in their hobbies, find new friends, and even visit shopping centers and other attractions nearby.
Assisted living homes are limited in the type and amount of medical care they are allowed to offer, but residents are able to avail of medication management services. This ensures that any prescribed medications are taken in the proper dosages and on time each day. They understand that some depression medications cause side effects that require close monitoring. Caregivers are able to keep a careful eye on the seniors in their care to prevent self-harm or harm to others.
Keeping the body active is the best way to support good mental health. Regular physical activity helps to balance the mood and keep the body in good working order. Assisted living communities offer physical therapy programs that are age-appropriate to keep residents active and moving during their stay. Depending on your location, there may be activities such as yoga, swimming, walks and other fitness programs to keep seniors healthy. Most programs will be tailored to meet the needs of the senior and will take current medical conditions into consideration.
Any home for seniors who suffer from depression should be staffed with people who are experienced with clinical depression. The facilities should be bright, open, and allow residents to connect with life as opposed to being shut away. There should also be programs in place to help seniors deal with their condition and manage their mental health. It is good to find a location that has the option to age in place, which will reduce emotional trauma as the senior ages. Always check certifications and visit assisted living locations near you that interest you several times before deciding on a facility for you or your loved one.
Major Depressive Disorder affects about 7% of the American population. While this percentage may seem low, that equals to just over 17 million adults. 7.5% of adults over 50 suffer from depression that occurred later in life while 16% percent were diagnosed with depression at a younger age. Many adults, seniors included, are never diagnosed either due to fear of treatment, denial of the problem or the choice to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Seniors over the age of 70 are 65% more likely to suffer from some level of depression regardless of whether they live by themselves, with their family members, or in assisted living, and regardless of their current state of health.
Seniors must deal with a wide assortment of age-related symptoms, but depression adds another level of complexity to regular aging. Depression in seniors may limit how they function socially, physically, and mentally. One way to spot depression in seniors is when they have trouble making decisions, concentrating, or even remembering fine details. Body pain is another sign that often is paired with decision making. Both cognitive function and body aches can also be signs of other conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease as well as general signs of aging. As a result, many seniors who suffer from depression are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Depression in seniors can have a wide range of triggers. Aside from adults who have battled depression their whole lives, serious illness and the onset of memory conditions are the leading cause of depression. Depression can be brought on by these conditions and can also make these conditions worse as the senior withdraws from normal interaction with others. In some seniors, prescription medication will cause depression as a side effect.
Another common cause of depression in seniors is their reduced independence. For seniors who have been very active and self-reliant their whole life, the need to depend on others even in the most minimal fashion can cause them to sink into depression. Suggesting that they need help will trigger feelings of resentment while leaving them feeling weak or helpless at the same time. Finding the perfect balance between offering support while also allowing autonomy is a delicate balancing act that is often hard to master.
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