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How to Help an Elderly Parent with Geriatric Depression

by Karen Mozzer on 7/7/14 10:25 AM
As parents age, many adult children find that geriatric psychiatry problems, such as depression and dementia, become increasingly common. When an elderly parent begins showing signs of depression, however, many people are unsure about how to handle the situation and how to help their mother or father. Here are a few things that children can do to help their parents improve their mental health.

Be understanding of symptoms and watch language

It is important for children and caregivers of the elderly to understand that depression is an illness. Therefore geriatric-parent-depressionsigns and symptoms should not be dismissed. At the same time, many elderly, especially those who are copingwith depression, feel as though they are a burden or useless. Be understanding of these emotions and avoid using language that might reinforce them, such as say
ing that the person is having trouble coping.

Be observant of subtle signs of depression and be willing to talk about feelings

Adult children should be understanding of the struggles their parents face and be willing to speak with them about their feelings without discomfort or dismissal. With their desire to avoid being a burden to family members, many might deny feelings of depression. Children should look for more subtle signs, such as excessive wringing of hands, irritability, or difficulty sitting still.

Be supportive when it comes to medical care

It is not possible to force someone to get medical care like seeing a professional for depression, so be understanding about fears that the person might feel and work at being supportive. This might mean offering to come to appointments and meet with the doctor or simply providing transportation and scheduling assistance. Use gentle encouragement to persuade them to get the help they need.

Depression in the elderly can be a common geriatric psychiatric problem. Understanding how children can help their parents cope can help improve quality of life for all involved.


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