Talking about mental health is a sensitive and difficult subject for everyone, but it is especially vital for seniors. Many seniors incur feelings of loneliness, melancholy, or worry as they age. Ofen signs of depression are confused with symptoms due to illness or medication and thus it is critical to check in on them frequently and to have open dialogues about how they are feeling. Here are some suggestions for how to discuss mental health with your senior loved one.
Check in Frequently
The more you are around your senior loved one, the more likely you are to notice changes in mood or behavior. Conversely, your loved one will be less likely to “put on a show” of happiness and contentment if you are with them often. A comfortable familiarity will lead to easier conversations on both sides.
Inquire About Their Feelings
It may seem too simple to ask directly about how your loved one is feeling emotionally, but that’s often the best way to get the conversation started. Many seniors will not recognize the symptoms of depression. Initially, you may not get an in-depth or honest answer, but you will be letting your loved one know that you care, and gently nudging them to be aware of their mental health. If you continue to ask regularly, you will likely get more in-depth responses.
Be a Good Listener
If your senior loved one does open up to you about their mental health struggles, it is critical that you remain present during the talk. Because mental health is a sensitive subject, it's important to approach the issue with empathy and compassion. Listen without passing judgment and resist the urge to make quick-fix suggestions. Instead, offer to help them talk to a physician, and ask how else you can help them.
Learn about common mental health disorders among seniors, such as depression and anxiety. This will enable you to notice the signs and symptoms and converse with your loved one more effectively. There are options available if you or a loved one require assistance. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) operates a helpline where people facing mental health issues can get information and support.
Remember that discussing mental health with your senior loved one can make them feel supported and inspire them to seek assistance if necessary. Don't be scared to have the talk, but keep sensitivity and compassion in mind. For more like this, visit our blog. At Careage we provide exceptional care, lifestyle, and housing for seniors. Contact us today to learn more.