There’s No Place Like Home!
There’s No Place Like Home!
As part of the Federal Government’s National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) funds and conducts research related to aging, including how older people can remain independent. This NIA tip sheet introduces you to the kinds of help that you might want to consider so you can continue to live on your own. Where possible, we give you suggestions for free or low-cost help and include ways to identify benefits that might be available to you. A list of groups to contact for more detailed information is included at the end of the tip sheet. You can share this tip sheet with others in your family, and you can use it to begin talking about your needs—now and in the future.
WHAT DO I DO FIRST?
Planning ahead is hard because you never know how your needs might change. But, the first step is to think about the kinds of help you might want in the near future. Maybe you live alone, so there is no one living in your home who is available to help you. Maybe you don’t need help right now, but you live with a husband or wife who does. Everyone has a different situation, but one way to begin planning is to look at any illnesses like diabetes or emphysema that you or your spouse might have. Talk to your doctor about how these health problems could make it hard for someone to get around or take care of him- or herself in the future. Help getting dressed in the morning, fixing a meal, or remembering to take medicine may be all you need to stay in your own home. For more information please visit http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/theres-no-place-home-growing-old or contact a Love My Nurse Home Health Care senior specialists for help keeping a loved one in the comfort of their own home!!
Everyone feels blue now and then. It’s part of life. But, if you no longer enjoy activities that you usually like, you may have a more serious problem. Feeling depressed without letup can change the way you think and the way you experience emotions. Doctors call this clinical depression.
Being “down in the dumps” over a period of time is not a normal part of getting older. But, it is a common problem, and medical help may be needed. For most people, depression gets better with treatment. Counseling (talk therapy), medicine, or other treatments can ease the pain of depression. You do not need to suffer.
There are many reasons why depression in older people is often missed or untreated. As a person ages, the signs of depression vary more than those of a younger person. Sometimes older people who are depressed appear to feel tired, have trouble sleeping, or seem grumpy and irritable. Confusion or attention problems caused by depression can sometimes look like Alzheimer’s disease or other brain disorders. Mood changes and signs of depression can be caused by medicines older people may take for arthritis, high blood pressure, or heart disease. The good news is that people who are depressed usually feel better with the right treatment.
There is no one cause of depression. For some people, a single event can bring on the illness. Depression often strikes people who felt fine but who suddenly find they are dealing with a death in the family. For some people, changes in the brain can affect mood and cause depression. Sometimes, those under a lot of stress, like caregivers, can feel depressed. Others become depressed for no clear reason.
People faced with life-changing health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or Parkinson’s disease, may become depressed. They may worry about how the illness will change their lives. They might be tired and unable to cope with things that make them sad. Treatment can help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Genetics, too, can play a role. Studies show that depression may run in families. Children of depressed parents may be at a higher risk for depression. Also, depression tends to be a disorder that occurs more than once. Many older people who have been depressed in the past will be at an increased risk for becoming depressed again.
How do you know when you need help? After all, as you age, you may have to face problems that could cause anyone to feel depressed. Perhaps you are dealing with the death of a loved one. Maybe you are having a tough time getting used to retirement and feel lonely, or are losing interest in things that used to bring you pleasure.
After a period of feeling sad, older people usually adjust and regain their emotional balance. But, if you are suffering from clinical depression and don’t get help, your depression might last for weeks, months, or even years. If you have several of the following signs of depression and they last for more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.
- An “empty” feeling, ongoing sadness, and anxiety
- Tiredness, lack of energy
- Loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities, including sex
- Sleep problems, including trouble getting to sleep, very early morning waking, and sleeping too much
- Eating more or less than usual
- Crying too often or too much
- Aches and pains that don’t go away when treated
- A hard time focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling guilty, helpless, worthless, or hopeless
- Being irritable
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you are a family member, friend, or healthcare provider of an older person, watch for clues. Sometimes depression can hide behind a smiling face. A depressed person who lives alone may appear to feel better when someone stops by to say hello. The symptoms may seem to go away. But, when someone is very depressed, the symptoms usually come back.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. If left untreated, serious depression may lead to suicide. Listen carefully if someone of any age complains about being depressed or says people don’t care. That person may really be asking for help. For more information about depression please visit http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/depression or contact a Love My Nurse Home Health Care representative and we will be happy to assist you in any way we can!