The fear and isolation resulting from COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the mental wellbeing of seniors, with nearly half of seniors surveyed in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll stating that their level of stress and worry was negatively affecting their health. Even though it still may be unsafe to visit in person with older adults, it is essential to remain in regular and frequent contact, and to watch out for any changes or signs that could signify a mental health concern.
As stated by psychiatrist Judith Feld, MD, MPH, “If a senior usually really enjoys a call with a grandchild, for example, but that seems to have changed, maybe you need to ask more questions, such as, ‘How can we be of help?’”
Additional indications of depression to watch for include sleeping problems, loss of appetite, lethargy, and complaints about pain, which surprisingly, can be one of the key signs of depression in seniors. Be aware of anything that seems abnormal for a senior’s character and personality.
It is important to recognize that depression is not just an unavoidable aspect of getting older, and that it really is a serious – but treatable – condition.
Listed below are some additional guidelines to help thoroughly assess a senior’s psychological state:
- Keep the conversations organic and natural, without coming across as interrogating. Statements such as, “Tell me what’s been happening in your life recently,” will entice a loved one to open up much more than, “Tell me what your doctor said at your last appointment.” The aim is to be caring but not condescending, being mindful not to try to parent your parents.
- While seeing and talking with the grandkids on Zoom is a good way to boost a senior’s mood, be sure to provide for some one-on-one time to talk without children present.
- Give consideration to what’s going on in the background of your video chats for any additional clues, such as whether the home looks tidy and well maintained, along with personal hygiene – disheveled, unkempt hair, for instance.
- Take into consideration whether substance abuse may be a factor. A rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic is occurring in individuals of all ages, and may be very harmful if there are potential interactions with medications the senior is taking.
If you suspect depression or any other mental health concern in a senior parent, be sure to contact the doctor immediately. Because you are most knowledgeable about the senior, you may well be in a position to pick up on signs that the medical team misses during routine appointments, and it’s crucial to help make your concerns known.
If you have any concerns, connect with Atlanta Home Care Partners for additional assistance with Atlanta personal care and the care services in the surrounding areas. We are able to function as your ears and eyes when you are not able to be there in person, and provide a variety of customized services to enhance socialization and quality of life at home. Give us a call at 404-228-0103 for more information.