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Helping older people with Depression

My neighbor is an 80- year old man who just lost his first three sons. Their death seems to have affected him so much, because they all died within a year. He lives alone and seems to be depressed. I wish to help him, but I have no idea how. Dr, kindly educate me.

Funsho, Osun

Good day Mr. Funsho, thank you for caring and wanting to support the elderly man in your community. It’s really a tough time for him and he will surely need the support of people like you to keep him going. Since no one lives with him, let’s start with regular visits to him, ensuring he eats adequately, helping him to keep his environment clean, if he has any other physical illness, making sure he visits his doctor(s) and take his medications. See that he is close to nature and stays spiritual. All of these will promote a healthy living and make him happy.

With regards to educating you on depression in the older ones, this is very important because they have lost the sense of existing. Below are some information that will help you take care of him.

Depression is common in older people, but is often overlooked and untreated. Depression among older people is often associated with physical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic pain; difficult life events, such as losing a partner, (in his case, loss of his children); and a reduced ability to do things that were possible when younger. Older people are at a high risk of suicide. Depression is treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication, or a combination of these.

Get him to talk to someone he trusts with his feelings. If you think he is depressed, seek professional help for him urgently. Your local health-care worker, or doctor is a good place to start. Keep up with activities that he may have always enjoyed, or find alternatives if previous activities are no longer possible for him. Ensure he stays connected. Keep him in contact with his family and friends. Ensure he eats at regular intervals and gets enough sleep. Ensure he exercises regularly if he can, even if it’s just a short walk. Ensure he avoids or restricts alcohol intake and only takes medicine as prescribed by his health-care provider.

Remember: There is a lot that can be done to prevent, and treat, depression in older age.

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