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Emotional Conditions Commonly Affecting the Elderly

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 9:00 am on

As a person advances in age, he or she often encounters new stressors that can have an impact on emotional health. Losing loved ones, retiring, and adjusting to new health conditions can all take a toll. Understanding the difference between a normal reaction to a life change and those responses that might require professional help is an essential aspect of providing quality long-term home care for a senior loved one.

Grief

When a senior adult loses a close loved one, such as a spouse, it is common for him or her to experience a period of sadness during which he or she may lose interest in normal activities. Crying, anger, and reminiscing on the past may also occur. It is important to allow senior adults to work through their emotions during this time. However, it may be necessary to seek professional help if the grief becomes prolonged or begins to affect overall health.

Depression

Serious depression is fairly common among senior adults who often experience feelings of isolation or struggle adapting to a life change. Part-time and live-in caregivers in Sonoma should be alert for the signs of depression following a loss or change in a senior loved one’s health. Seniors with depression may experience periods of sadness that go beyond two weeks and interfere with normal activities. Planning for regular social interaction each day can help prevent some cases of depression.

Anxiety

Seniors often find that they have many new worries during their golden years that can lead to chronic anxiety. While it is normal to feel slightly anxious before a medical procedure or other new event, those who experience feelings of anxiety throughout the day may need help managing their stress. Serious cases of anxiety may include symptoms such as nausea, a racing heartbeat, and an urge to avoid or flee a situation. Counseling and sometimes medication can be used to help alleviate these symptoms.

Anger

There can be many causes for a senior to begin lashing out in anger. For some seniors, other emotional or physical conditions cause them to become unhappy with their life situation. Anger can also be a symptom of dementia or a side effect of certain medications. When a senior begins to express more anger than normal, it may be necessary to talk to his or her physician to rule out underlying causes. Then, relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can be practiced with the help of a caregiver to help him or her manage challenging emotions.

For some seniors, additional companionship and regular activity can help stave off the negative feelings at the root of many of these conditions. At Home Care Assistance of Sonoma, we use a holistic approached called the Balanced Cared Method to promote overall health through diet, exercise, regular socialization, and helping seniors maintain a strong sense of calm and purpose. To learn more about how our care services could benefit your loved one, please call (707) 843.4368 and speak with a friendly Care Manager.