#BellLetsTalk – Depression in the Elderly

logo_letstalk_enToday is #BellLetsTalk awareness day  – an open conversation about mental health. At Menno Place, we are aware of the impact of depression among the elderly, particularly as they experience multiple losses in their lives.

Depression among seniors is a result of “factors such as loss of control and independence as the result of illness and/or disability, loneliness, and lack of social support” – Fact Sheet: Depression Among Seniors, Canadian Psychological Association

It is critical to remember that depression is NOT the unavoidable fate of older age. Statistics say that about 15% of older persons over 65 report significant levels of depressive symptoms.

At Menno Place, we seek to reduce depression in elderly seniors by providing a full social calendar of recreational opportunities; spiritual care including Bible Studies and one-on-one pastoral care visits; friendship care through one-on-one visits; medical intervention as recommended by a doctor; music therapy; bus trips and so much more.

Depression in elderly seniors can be difficult to detect. The symptoms of depression such as sleep problems, feeling fatigued and lack of energy naturally occur in older adulthood.

The Canadian Psychological Association suggests several psychological approaches that are particularly useful for people who are unable or unwilling to take antidepressant medications:

  • Cognitive-behaviour therapy helps individuals with depression become aware of how thoughts influence mood and behavior, and learn to correct negative ways of thinking in order to alleviate depression.
  • Interpersonal therapy helps the depressed person cope with current stresses and challenges in interpersonal relationships – in particular in the context of conflicts, grief and bereavement, changes in roles, and social support.
  • Problem-solving therapy helps individuals with depression develop effective problem-solving skills to cope with current difficulties, such as managing a health condition or adjusting to living in a nursing home.
  • Reminiscence therapy helps individuals with depression re-evaluate personal memories in order to rediscover a sense of worth and life coherence and meaning.

These psychological treatments are safe and effective alternatives to medications for mild to moderate depression, with combined drug and psychological treatment often used for complex cases

For the past 2 years, Menno Place has been pleased to participate in providing an immersion exercise for the Family Systems: Advanced Marriage and Family Therapy course (CPSY 616) for the Masters of Arts Counselling Psychology degree at Trinity Western University. This involves setting up two one-on-one interactions per student with an elderly senior who lives on the Menno Place campus to increase the student’s understanding of issues faced by the elderly.

Our participation in this course has supported professor Martin Bartel in bringing into focus the issues elderly seniors and their families face.

With this involvement in educating future Family Counsellors, Menno Place is bringing the issues of mental health and family dynamics into the conversation. Our goal is to provide support in the area of mental health for elderly seniors and their family now and in years to come.