by George Shaw
Common Tips for Community Building and Social Outreach for Seniors to Prevent Depression and Loneliness
A rapidly growing problem in today’s society is clinical depression amongst our elders. There are numerous life factors that contribute to senior depression, many of them are unavoidable. The loss of mobility or the diagnosis of an illness either in themselves or a loved one, the need to employ or become a long term care provider and retirement are all things that can cause one to become depressed. It is more difficult to diagnose someone who is older; however, because symptoms, loss of speed or appetite, may be masked as characteristics of someone who is simply aging. Untreated depression in seniors has caused the geriatric suicide rate to climb at an alarming pace; therefore, it is important to identify depression as soon as possible when suspected and to seek help or treatment for yourself or your loved one. Seniors are proven to be less likely to reach out and seek help for themselves.
Community has proven to be a tremendous help in treating and preventing depression in seniors. Simple human interaction and the support offered by others facing the same life hurdles provide an excellent blanket of reassurance to the fact that you are not alone. Often one of the main causes of depression in older people is a feeling of isolation from society. They are lonely and have suffered a great amount of loss. Having a support group of people that are dealing with the same losses and challenges can help to give those suffering from depression an outlet for their feelings and a sense of community. Talk therapy can be as effective as drug therapy when treating depression. There are even online support groups that can be found, allowing those who need it the ability to reap the benefits of group therapy from home.
Community Centers and Group Activities
Almost every city has a community center for its people and most of those centers offer some kind of senior program. Whether classes or scheduled outings, these times provide an opportunity for elders to get out of the house and be around other people, having new experiences and continuing to LIVE, further combating the feelings of isolation that can lead to debilitating depression. When you are enrolled in class or signed up for a trip, someone is holding you accountable. You are expected to show up, and it is less likely that you will stay home alone. This is one of the reasons that these programs are so effective, that and the fact that we thrive off of human interaction. Having conversations, getting our minds working, and sharing experiences with one another helps to get us motivated and keep us going.
It is so important to identify depression in a person of any age, and to then take steps to treat it. Once action has been taken to improve your overall mood, you begin to be able to function better and do more which continues to improve your feelings of self worth and the way you feel, allowing you to move on from those feelings of depression into something a little brighter.