In this episode of Senior Living LIVE! we're tackling the topic of depression in seniors head on. Join us as Resident Care Specialist Suzanne Price from The Arbor Company shares valuable insights about this common issue. Learn about misconceptions, warning signs, and how to support your loved ones.
Hello, everybody, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. Thank you so much for being with us. The wonderful Suzanne Price is back with us today to talk about depression and seniors.
Lots of misconceptions about this Susanne, and she is here to set the record straight on why this affects so many seniors, another topic that you are compassionate about, and that not just compassionate, but It just it it's something that you specifically wanted to talk about because you know it's an important topic, and we're gonna discuss it today. Why it goes under reported, how you can recognize the signs in yourself or a loved one and get the help that you deserve. Suzanne, thank you for being here. Thank you for having me. Please tell everybody about yourself and what you do for the upper company.
I'm a registered nurse and my official title is resident care specialist.
I travel throughout the communities of Arbor.
I train. I support nurses and clinical staff. I will step in and assist if needed in a community.
And I really, get in the trenches and make sure that everything that we want to happen for our seniors is happening in a clinical place on a daily basis.
Well, when it comes to depression, it is not a normal part of aging. So we're going right out of the gate with the Thank you. Yes.
So why so common for seniors and why is it underreported?
So first of all, I think when if we put our cells in the process of that time in our lives. And think about the fact that it might be that you are no longer able to drive due to physical vision issues. Perhaps there's a bit of cognitive client, that's a very difficult thing to lose that independence.
Perhaps you're no longer able to live in your own home with all of those things that you collected over your lifetime that are they represent your life, those memories.
So you you're moving into either an apartment, independent living, or a community such as Arbor with the assistance needed to, provide those, items, perhaps it's a little bit of physical assistance or medication management, or just that social aspect that you need. No matter how wonderful it is at where you're moving and We all look and see this beautiful community.
Let's all admit that if it were us, leaving our own home, our people, the neighborhood we've lived in forever, to come into this new environment would be very daunting and difficult. It is a transition and it's a huge life transition. And it's kind of closing a chapter that you know is closed forever.
And that's a hard thing. And we need to really look at that and talk about that and acknowledge it.
Yeah. And and even for somebody who may be watching and they say, well, you know what? I'm not moving or I haven't moved yet, but I am a senior senior's experience a lot of loss. Right?
Thank you. Quite a bit of loss just from, you know, you get older and you lose friends, you lose family members. And then it's, you know, how do you handle that. And and so that's, you know, we are all encompassing here in in our discussion about depression and seniors So what are some signs?
So if somebody's sitting at home or they're in a community right now, and they're like, I'm fine. What are some we should be looking forward to begin seeking help for depression. And somebody may say, I don't have it, but then after hearing you, they might realize they do. Mhmm.
So that's a great question because I think part of the conundrum as we get older is that we tend to have perhaps some medical situations or we've got some chronic health issues, and we kind of overlap there. So what might be considered part of this diagnosis is really a depression or it might be part of a medical diagnosis. So it's really important to look at those layers and peel them away to see what's what. So some of the things that you are looking for I would say kind of the overall idea is a change in that person.
If they are someone who's always been in the middle of social activity likes to go out, to dinner, and they don't wanna do that anymore. They wanna just stay home or they wanna stay in their apartment.
That's a flag. Someone who is sleeping more than normally and they just kinda wanna stay in bed or someone who's not sleeping well, who is having troubles going to sleep or staying to sleep or they're waking up very early and kind of just restless. One that I think is interesting that I I don't know that I would have pegged as depression until I read this was And it kinda goes with that anxiety piece, just a restlessness, not being able to sit still, pacing.
Not being able to focus on something that you are able, you know, to do, if you have a a hobby that you love. And you no longer really wanna participate in that.
That's a sign. Eating habits, appetite, loss of appetite, not eating as you were before or overeating more. So we're kind of looking for weight loss or weight gain.
Kind of that lack of interest, empathy, in life, or in things that were always important to you.
Fronic pain is a big one. And of course, that's one of those where we have to separate what is what, but pain is exacerbated with depression.
And depression is exacerbated if you're in pain. So it's really important to look at that and and see what's what and And are we treating all aspects of that?
One item that one area that we really need to look at that we probably don't talk enough about is caregiver burnout.
So we might have some elder abuse in an isolated where a a a child an adult child is caring for a senior.
And they are just overwhelmed.
So sometimes it it's an actual abuse. Sometimes it's just they're burnt out. So that elder is sitting in their room all day watching TV, those things that they should have to really keep a challenging life are just not there. And so we need to kinda keep eyes out for, in our own lives and in our communities, you know, and talk talk about it.
And and people that you know are caring for an adult, in their home, let them talk about, you know, how are you doing? You know, can do you need a break? How can we help you get a break? Those are all really important things to discuss.
Yeah. And it's, kind of leads to the next question of, you know, ways that we can reduce the risk of depression for ourselves or for a loved one. And as you said, the first part of that is to to recognize it, you know. And -- Yes.
-- everything you just mentioned is something that you can do for a spouse. You can do for a friend. You can, do for, you know, another family member. You can kind of look at those signs.
It's it's harder for, I think, us to sort of self assess. Right? Right. Mhmm. Granted by other people, we have the ability to have others that can maybe assess and help us with that.
Or if anything you're living community, hey, you've got staff that can do that almost on a daily basis, which is the beauty of happiness in community as as a place you call home. So what are, some of the ways that we can reduce, the risk of depression? So as you mentioned, something that I think is invaluable is just having that interaction every day with our seniors in our communities, Our frontline staff who are so many of the time, the closest person in that residence, like, they are their family.
They will share with them, you know, how they're feeling and be very open with them. And we encourage, you know, everyone to have eyes out and notice if they see any symptoms or any time that they think that someone might be depressed, and they're very good about, you know, expressing to the proper person, you know, their concerns.
I think that the more we have that, supportive empathetic approach to our lives. It will be easier for everyone to talk about. I think one reason seniors don't talk about it as much. Is when they were growing up, it really wasn't something you talked about, and there was a stigma attached to it.
And I I think there was we don't talk about that. You know? And it's just kept behind closed doors. So that is kind of still their mindset.
Another piece of that with seniors, I think that there's a bit of a hesitancy because there is a concern if I say I'm depressed, Will they think I'm not stable? Will they think I can't do this or that on my own? Will they think I'm crazy? Will they think I have dementia?
There is a lot of, you know, hyper concern about presenting yourself as very capable as a senior for some folks, and it's something they talk about a lot in senior living that They don't want you to talk about it with their family. They don't want their family to think there's anything wrong. And you really have to work with them and say, This isn't a senior issue. This isn't, specific person age group culture.
This is everyone, and we've got to talk about it and work together to support each other. Yeah. The good news is it's not the way it was back then, we're openly talking about it now, and it's nothing to be punished for. Absolutely.
To, you know, open up and say, hey, this is what's going on. Now I just picked up on something you said and you said one of the questions could be, do I have dementia? So, Suzanne, how can we differentiate between depression and other cognitive issues such as dementia. Right. So a great place to start and not only with that, but with any piece of this, is it something medical?
Is it depression or is there something else going on? Primary care physician.
Go visit your primary care physician and be honest with them and say I'm I'm feeling down, you know, just describe what it is that's going on and let them, they will draw labs, they will vet every other piece of it, and then they'll talk about what works for you. We're all different.
It might be medication. It might be top therapy, which is a form of counseling, which they're finding is very factor with a lot of our senior population because they have been through so many different situations and never had a chance to really work through it as we do now. When you think about it, did anyone talk about PTSD for World War to. You know, that was not a thing, but we know who knows how many soldiers came home and just live their lives, self medicated, tucked it away and never had any kind of treatment. Those are the kind of things that over time really accumulate. A loss of a child. A loss of a spouse is a really big time of grieving and some folks have a hard time getting past not not the grieving in general because we know that takes time, but getting out of that active phase and being able to move on with the grief that being able to work through the grief and know how to manage it, have the tools to really get back to your baseline of well-being.
Yeah. Perfect. Very well said.
Before we finish today, do you have any additional resources you can share with our viewers or hotlines that can help somebody who's watching. Yes. And I'm glad you said hotline that reminded me of something.
Studies have shown that if we go early to our primary care when we first began with some depression, the rate of suicide later on is much, much lower. So it shows you that those interventions, they do help. And and it does make a difference.
I'm gonna give, it's a four question.
It's called the short depression scale.
And it's something that we use, with seniors when we're doing assessments, but it's something anyone can kind of tuck away because these are questions any of us could ask someone else to kinda get a feel for how are you doing? So the first one is do you often get bored? Don't ask a teenager that.
Second one is do you often feel helpless?
Think about the the loss of control over your own life that occurs. Do you prefer to stay at home rather than go out or do new things?
And do you feel pretty worthless about the way you are now?
If someone answers at least two of those with a yes, That's an indicator that there's a chance that they are having some depression, and it should be addressed.
If you feel like it is, your to us is a situation where it is actually someone who could harm themselves or are talking about suicide. Of course, we take that very seriously. And so that would be either a nine one one call or a suicide hotline call and make sure that we address that as soon as possible.
There are some things that we can all do, and I am going to sound like just I say this with every time, Melissa, you're gonna know. I'm gonna say the same things, but guess what?
If we do those daily healthy habits, it does decrease the risk of having depression.
And and really, we need to emphasize again that aging is is a difficult process. It doesn't mean we need to be depressed or that depressed is inevitable depression. However, There are some major obstacles to work through and some health issues that someone may never have faced in their life before. So get enough sleep.
If we don't sleep well, we don't cope well. That's just part of life. Stay active.
You know, if you are not able to get out, call if you belong to a church, call the church, ask for someone to come visit you. See if there are some zoom, opportunities for you to connect for church services.
Anything you can do to socialize.
Call your neighbor, ask them to come over. That social interaction is huge. Loneliness is a big piece of depression, and that's for anybody. Isolation is a huge factor in depression.
And eat right. We go back to those wholesome, good, healthy meals. Having a nutritious meal drinking your fluids, getting exercise, those things that happen in our communities, and we really support, and if our residents are are staying away from a meal or we know they're not sleeping, we are gonna go ahead and kind of do some sleuthing and find out why that is. And try and support whatever is going on with them.
Yeah. And and everything you just mentioned, I think every single person who's this, no matter where they happen to be, what, no matter what age that they are. If we all just think back to twenty twenty, isolation, right, we work doing the routines that that we may be used to do, maybe weren't eating as healthy because it was hard to, you know, get a meal somewhere.
If you just think about the way you felt then and that isolation, and I think maybe all of us probably I went I went put a blanket statement there, but, you know, Depression was very common. And because of that, you know, because so many people were experiencing it, it's it's a topic and discussion that has been brought to the forefront of how important it is. And now we can openly discuss it and talk about it, and there's stigma attached to it because, hey, we all experience something, maybe once in a lifetime that will be scary So if we can all just take that, the way we felt then and understand that, you know what, if we're feeling that way again now perhaps, you can get help.
You can get help. You can absolutely get help, and and there's no stigma attached to that whatsoever. No. None at all.
And I'm I'm so grateful that we are too that point that we are talking about it and really supporting each other and embracing each other. Another great topic. Again, you came up with so many wonderful, things to discuss about senior living that, we hadn't done on the show in the past. So now that, be because of your your brains and, your background and your knowledge, we've got these resources that we can give to all of our viewers.
And, Susan, we are so thankful for that. Thank you for being here. My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
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