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How to Help Elderly Loved Ones Fight Depression

January 9, 2014


Older individuals suffering from depression often have severe feelings of sadness, but these feelings frequently are not acknowledged or openly shown. Sometimes, when an older person is asked if he or she is depressed, the answer is “no.” Some general clues that an older person is experiencing depression include persistent and vague complaints, help-seeking, moving in a slower manner, and demanding behavior.

How can a caregiver help a loved one who has depression?

  • The first step to helping your loved one is to educate yourself about depression.
  • Be able to recognize the symptoms and changes that occur as you care for your loved one.
  • Listen without giving advice or opinions — this will encourage future conversations.
  • Give positive reinforcement to help with feelings of worthlessness your loved one may be experiencing.
  • Encourage your loved one to participate in activities that they may enjoy and can accomplish without difficulty (like board or card games).
  • Create a stress-free environment by making your time with your loved one as organized and routine as possible.
  • If your loved one has suicidal thoughts or expresses threats to his or her safety, report the situation to your loved one’s primary physician immediately.


Learn more about depression in older adults.

Information contributed by Kelly Platt, LMSW.