How To Deal With Depression In Elderly?

Depression is a mood disorder that has an effect on our emotional functioning. Though sadness is a major sign of depression, a lot of elderly with depression claim not feeling sad. Besides, many assume that feeling low is a part of getting old and many are unwilling to talk about it. These are few reasons for why depression in the elderly goes often unnoticed.

Studies tell that Elderly Depression in India is 10% to 25% of the elderly population. This means that the rate of depression goes up to as much as one in four elderly.

Also, when you visit some of the NGOs in India, you will find many elderly people who are suffering with depression.

Red Flags of Depression

· Feeling of sadness, low mood

· Complaints of pains and discomfort, often unexplained

· Weight loss and/or reduced need to eat

· Lack of enthusiasm, exhaustion, slowed movement or speech

· Ignoring personal care (missing meals, forgetting medicines, avoiding personal cleanliness)

· Sleep troubles (trouble in falling or remaining asleep / oversleeping / daytime drowsiness)

· More Irritability

· Reduced socialization

· Memory problems

· Thoughts of suicide

· Reduced self-esteem

· Hopelessness

Being aware of the signs as well as symptoms is the first step in getting help. If you see some of the above symptoms showing in an older person, then it’s a time to be warned to the possibility of them being depressed. How can you support them?

Psychologists and counsellors can help the older people cope and come out of the depression while medicines might also be prescribed by a psychiatrist to correct the neuro-chemical imbalances that depression causes. However, when you have recognized depression, it’s significant to comprehend your role in helping them.

The following are few “Do’s and Don’ts” which a volunteer working in an NGO can follow in helping the elderly with depression:


· Have a peaceful chat with them with the objective to find out what might be troubling them and any new changes that have affected them.

· Use softer words to take the edge off.

· Assure them that you know how they feel and are not judgmental and will support them in their decision.

· Let them help themselves as far as possible by keeping in mind their independence.

· With their permission, be with them when examined by doctors.


· Don’t get annoyed with them even if you’re worried about their wellbeing. Compelling them to do something might backfire so taking it slow is important.

· Don’t use words like depression or other words that might make them defensive.

· Don’t let them feel judged or labelled, as they might feel guilt and embarrassment and that should be removed.

· Don’t do everything for them. That might make them feel like a liability.

· Don’t force your way in, however seek their consent and show your determination to help. Being there to support will help make the whole procedure less disturbing for them.

So, following the instructions above, be a good volunteer and help in providing love, understanding and help for the elderly to make them depression-free.

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