Senior Depression

By Doug Mayberry

March 9, 2020 4 min read

Q: My mom has been on her own since my dad passed away about a decade ago. She dealt with it reasonably well and even dated for a while.

Now she's not doing so well. She's sad all the time and has retreated from her regular activities. Our family is pretty sure she's depressed.

What are the best ways to address this? Is it natural, or can we help?

A: Depression usually doesn't go away on its own. It's time to make a plan.

Before anything else, look to the basics. Diet, sleep and physical activity all play a huge role in mood regulation. Nudge your mom toward healthy choices, and see if there is a difference.

Some seniors worry because they don't get a full night's rest anymore. Keep in mind that seniors need less sleep because of their activity levels. Six or seven hours of sleep per night may be more natural than a full eight.

Once you've considered these, it's time to think about other lifestyle changes.

Loneliness is another huge factor for senior depression. Regular check-ins will help your mom feel important. You don't have to talk about anything serious; just share what's going on in your life!

Encourage her to get out there and spend time with other people. It's not healthy to be alone all the time.

If these methods don't help, you might want to suggest talk therapy or other professional help.

It's never too late for change! Happiness can be found at every age. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

RISK TAKING

Q: My husband is immunocompromised, and I'm worried about him getting sick (especially with the spread of the new coronavirus).

I'm lucky to be in good health, but I always worry about him. He doesn't seem to understand how serious his health problems are and could get!

I go to a book club with several of my friends, and one of them loves to travel. She just came back from a trip to several cities in Europe. We have a meeting coming up, but I don't want to expose my husband to anything my friend or anyone else might have.

How can I protect his health? Would going to this book club be an unnecessary risk?

Do I have anything to worry about?

A: Use your best judgment.

When the risk is high, it's better to be safe than sorry. Consider how likely it is that anybody in your group is sick, as well as how fragile your husband is to sicknesses.

It's OK to miss a meeting! Just make sure to go to the next one. And be polite to your host.

If other people are unable to attend this meeting, you might suggest rescheduling it. But I would avoid telling your friends to arrange their schedules around what is convenient for you. Manners and thoughtfulness will help you preserve your friendships.

Everybody has to leave the house sometimes. However, you can mitigate your risk by avoiding prolonged contact with those likely to be sick, practicing regular hand-washing and minimizing your time in public spaces. Assume that everybody is a potential source of infection, and think about how diseases are transferred.

Although you want to be safe, don't let anxiety rule your life. Take reasonable precautions, and try to enjoy life with your husband. — Doug

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: geralt at Pixabay

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