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The Caregiver's Role in Later Age Mental Health

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by Karen Mozzer on 7/17/14, 8:00 AM

The companion or caregiver of an older individual plays a crucial role in that person’s overall mental health. Older Americans face tougher challenges as they become older and find themselves facing the issues of a retired American.caregivers-role-mental-health

Whether older people are having issues with depression or just a feeling of self-worth, their caregiver can do things to help them tackle these problems in a manner that’s not only positive, but also supportive.

Take the time to listen

One of the most important things that a caregiver can do is take the time to actually listen to what the person they are responsible for has to say.

The concerns of an older person are actually quite valid and shouldn’t be ignored. Addressing those issues head on and coming up with solutions without becoming their therapist is very important, and you will be surprised just how much just being a supportive, non-judgmental listener can be for them.

Take them to their doctor appointments

Getting around from place to place usually can be impersonal for the average elderly individual, as they find themselves taking a seniors bus or shuttle to their doctor appointments on their own.

A caregiver or family member can make this an easier task, just with the offer to take them to where they need to be, plus going to an appointment with a familiar face is sure to be a very supportive gesture for that person and very much appreciated.

Being prepared for the good and not so good

Family members and caregivers should be prepared for the good and not so good moments in regard to caring for their elderly patient or family member.

Sometimes there can be resistance to help or assistance even when it’s to the patient or loved one’s benefit. It’s important to become educated and recognize the signs of depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts or inclinations.

It’s also important to know when more professional assistance is required in the form of therapy or hospitalization as necessary to deal with mental or physical issues that go beyond the scope of the average caregiver.  

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