One of the greatest challenges facing seniors is loneliness. Friends might have passed away, children will have all grown and moved on, and after retirement there is more time alone than before. Often, a spouse will pass away, leading to profound grief and, as a result, depression. Dealing with this depression is important to maintaining mental, emotional, and even physical health, especially for the elderly.
Symptoms: Depression vs. Grief
The symptoms of grief and major depression are similar, but there are some differences to be aware of. If you or a loved one is grieving the loss of a spouse, there are some signs to look out for. These include the following:
- The symptoms of grief tend to fluctuate, but depression will involve more consistent negative feelings.
- It’s natural to avoid certain social situations while grieving. However, if your grief or that of a loved one involves refusing all help and support from others, it’s likely a case of depression.
- Depression comes with feelings of purposelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and lost interest in normal activities.
Sadness, social withdrawal, and lost sleep or appetite are normal for a grieving person. However, if these seem to worsen rather than improve over time, depression has likely set in.
Coping with Loss
There are healthy ways to cope with loss and even reduce the effects of depression. A few of these are:
- Family and friends: Accept the support of loved ones. If you have a loved one who has lost a spouse, reach out to them and offer assistance (or even just company).
- Learn and grow: Pursue an interest or hobby, or develop a new skill.
- Stay healthy: Exercise, try to get enough sleep, and stay hydrated.
- Seek outside support: Attend a support group or seek therapy.
Family and friends can help those who are grieving by reaching out to them and lending support. For those residing at a skilled nursing facility or assisted living home, such as Senior Care Centers, professional resources are available. Contact us today to inquire about independent living facilities.