Senior Depression Is A Societal Issue

Ageing And Depressed

Many seniors are depressed and nobody knows! How much attention do you pay to the older population? How much time do you spend with them? Whether they be friends, co-workers, your parents or your grandparents, or aunts and uncles? How often do you visit or call?

These people could either be depressed and lonely from the loss of their spouse, lack of family visits, loss of friends, or a combination thereof. They could also be depressed from these issues on top of pre-existing depresssive illnesses they have been suffering with most of their lives. The pre-existing depression along with the new loneliness is a dangerous combination.

Many times we’ll hear about an elderly person who passed away and wasn’t known they had passed until weeks later when bills go unpaid, lawns not mowed, etc and someone finally tries to get a hold of them. Or an elderly person who spends years in a nursing home with not a single visit from anyone right up to their passing. And this may be a growing trend as more and more of our population is growing older. 

Humans are social animals and thrive on interaction. Elderly people grow grumpy and push potential new friends away acting as if they’re fine being alone because they’re upset over the loss of their spouse and haven’t heard from their family in years. Some may attempt to replace this interaction with pets, usually cats and/or dogs (every neighborhood has the local cat woman or dog man that kids make fun of). 

These very same people could have been the most outgoing and friendliest people when they were younger. But typically after losing their spouse and no longer get any interaction from their family, they resort to becoming a hermit. They

  • Stop going to church
  • Stop going to bingo or other activities
  • Stop taking care of their hobbies and themselves
  • Shop, and therefore eat, less often

Their world literally dies. In many cases they spend their holidays alone too. The family no longer visits them or picks them up to take them to the family get together. They also get more depressed and lonely during the holiday season. 

Noone wants to live like this. But yet many do. They’re the forgotten of our society. They get less and less attention, and many families view them as more and more of a burden the older they get. Especially if they become ill, physically or mentally. Once falling ill, families can’t get them into a nursing home fast enough. You don’t want your kids to do that to you, so why are you doing it to your parents? Lead by example. Tossing your parents into a facility and forgetting about them is teaching your kids that’s what you do to older people.

This holiday season, keep the older members of your family in mind. Be sure to include them in your gathering. And make it your New Year’s resolution to keep them a part of the family and visit or call them often. Allow their last year’s on this planet to be years of love and joy, not loneliness and sorrow.

Try to make it a point to visit your local nursing home and visit a resident that doesn’t recieve visits. Even if you only visit them once a month, you will make all the difference in their lives. And you’ll be giving them a chance to share their stories with someone and have the ability to allow their legacy to live on by sharing their stories with your family. 

If you’re a senior who has lossed a spouse, stopped getting visits from the family, and now live a life alone, I urge you to get back out the door. Start going to church. Go to meetups in your community for seniors. If you’re a vet, join a veterans organization. Get active. It will help you both physically and mentally; even if you only go to one event a week. And I promise you will enjoy it and will grow to looking forward to it.

During the holidays, there are numerous gatherings held by different organizations where you can get a free holiday meal and spend a few hours with others. While there, talk to the other people. Share your stories and try to make some friends.

The worst thing you can do to yourself and your health is seclude yourself from the rest of the world. Mental and physical illness could creep in quicker when alone and miserable as opposed to if you had people in your life and you’re generally happy. Especially if you are genetically predisposed to an illness, such as Parkinson’s, Dementia, or Alzheimer’s. Locking yourself away, you’re almost guaranteeing the illness will not only develop, but develop sooner than it would have if you were happy.

Depression is a major issue amongst senior citizens. But it doesn’t have to be. Together we could put an end to this epidemic. It’s as simple as frequent visit or phone call. They won’t have the ability to lock themselves away from society and grow depressed if we don’t allow it by keeping them in our lives.

It wasn’t all that long ago that families respected their elders and took care of them as they got older. Today, despite all the technological advancements, society seems to have less time and care for their elders and gave way to the nursing facility boom. What happened that families no longer take care of each other? What happened that families decided after a certain age, or once illness kicks in, it’s time to throw them in a home and exclude them from the family? It’s a disturbing trend that is quickly becoming an epidemic. If you won’t take care of your parents, don’t expect your children to take care of you.

Senior depression is an issue created by society, and is an issue that can only be resolved by society.


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