Ways to help your aging parent deal with depression
Dealing with aging parents who are also dealing with depression can be one of the hardest things you may face in their later years. The reason is that often older people do not want to seek help for their problems because they believe it shows weakness. But there are ways to help them anyway.
Don’t Ignore Their Issues
– If your parent isn’t eating right, isn’t sleeping right, or taking care of themselves, or they’re acting out in emotional ways that are uncharacteristic of them, you may need to intervene to ensure that they stay healthy. That can be hard if they’re not willing, but it is possible.
Make Time for Them
– If you live nearby, try to visit them weekly. If you don’t, call them weekly. Make a point to take time out of your busy schedule to let them know that they’re an important part of your life. Send articles through the mail that you think they’ll like, as well as pictures of the grandkids or yourself. Not all aging people use the net, and even if they do they still appreciate snail mail.
Let Them Express Their Feelings
– Getting older is hard. You lose your independence even though you don’t always feel old. Your brain most of the time still feels like you’re 20, but then your body lets you down. It’s hard to know that you don’t have long left and that the time you do have left isn’t free. Listen to how they feel and don’t pooh-pooh their thoughts and feelings.
Don’t Talk Down to Them
– These are your parents and even though the world has changed and they sometimes seem as if they don’t know anything, they do know something. They have earned the right to be treated as adults even if they are having issues. Speak to them with their terminology so that you don’t offend them or make them close up.
Respect the Illness
– Depression is a real illness with causes that are physiological in nature. We may not understand all the ins and outs yet of what causes it, but it’s not made up and it’s not just in the mind.
This is a hard thing to deal with, so it might help if you also get some professional help while you encourage your parent to get help too.