As one ages, numerous changes are taking place in body, mind and home environment. The losses, for some, can seem unrelenting. If your aging parent is undergoing a sense of loss that is leading to a sense of hopelessness, knowing the stages of grief as well as the signs of depression will help you make informed choices regarding your senior family member’s care.
The Stages of Grief
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her research on death and dying, found seven unique stages one goes through. She and grief expert, David Kessler, went on to develop these into the five stages of grief. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While not a linear timeline from one emotion to the next, knowing what to expect and where your parent may be in the grieving process can help you help them regain hope and move on.
The Signs of Depression
While depression is a normal part of the healing process, if your senior family member gets stuck in this phase, it’s time to get medical intervention. Contact their primary health care provider or psychiatrist as soon as possible. The signs of depression in seniors can be different from the general population. They tend to feel disturbances and may not be able to name the exact emotions they are going through.
Some of the signs include:
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Increasing isolation
- Slowed movement or speech
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Increasing memory problems including forgetting to take medications
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Extreme fatigue
The Difference between Grief and Depression
The grieving process flows like a river in which there are eddies and rapids and still, calm tranquil pools. Grief and the feelings associated with it come and go and one can enter and exit the several stages many times. Depression, on the other hand, is unrelenting.
Depression can also be the result of certain medications and the result of painful or disabling chronic health conditions. Consider accompanying your parent to their doctor’s appointment and asking them about these two possible causes. One important role that you, as the family caregiver, will need to consider is that of your parent’s medical advocate.
Elder Care Provider
Consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider as your loved one recovers from these types of emotional roller coasters. Not only can they help your senior family member with the everyday tasks of living, they can provide them with the companionship and social engagement that is so important to one undergoing the many changes that aging brings.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elder care in Los Altos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Bay Area Home Care. Call today 650-938-4031.