Research shows that almost a quarter of those 65 years of age or older develop various forms of depression. In fact, about 50 percent of physician visits from this group involve emotional distress, which can lead to a loss of appetite and other issues. Do you find yourself exhibiting signs of depression, including feelings of tearfulness, emptiness, sadness, or hopelessness? Not to worry. Below are some ways to combat depression.
What Causes Depression in Elders?
Several factors can lead to depression in this group. The first is the loss of a spouse or significant other, as well as longtime friends and colleagues. This leaves many aging individuals alone with no one to confide in. The second is the recognition that aging brings them closer to death, combined with physical decline and the inability to perform tasks that were simple when they were younger.
Give Yourself A New Mission And Purpose
One way of combating depression is to give yourself a new purpose or mission in life. Being retired doesn’t mean you should sit around all day doing nothing, yet this is exactly what many elders do. By giving yourself a new goal or something to work towards gives you a sense of purpose which can remove the feelings of depression which often come from the emptiness of doing nothing.
One of the best things you can do is help others, perhaps by guiding someone younger than yourself. Helping a young person avoid the mistakes you made will give you a sense of fulfillment that makes life worth living.
Get Better Sleep
Some elders live by the philosophy that they don’t need to get much sleep since they will soon be sleeping for eternity anyhow, but this logic is flawed. Insomnia and bad sleep habits lead to depression and vice versa. You’ll want to get into the habit of following a strict schedule where you go to sleep at specific times each night and then wake up each morning on schedule. You’ll also want to avoid activities that cause sleeplessness, such as consuming caffeine.
Keep Photographs of Your Family and Friends Nearby
Whether they’re living or deceased, carrying around pictures of your friends and loved ones can alleviate depression, according to a study that was undertaken by psychologists at UCLA. Looking at the photos allows many people to feel less emotional pain, especially women. It is believed that viewing these images brings emotional support which boosts mental health.
Become Physically Fit
Physical fitness can benefit people of all ages, and it doesn’t matter when you start. Whether you’re 66 or 86, starting a fitness regimen will allow you to live a longer, happier, and healthier life. And contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t have to be boring, tedious, or strenuous. Riding a bike, hiking in the woods, swimming, or playing tennis with your friends or spouse are activities that most people would find to be fun. Research has consistently shown that those who exercise regularly will remain independent for longer while experiencing less loneliness and decline.