RCFE administrators keeping seniors happy

8 Ways Caregivers Can Help Seniors With Depression & Isolation

Anyone who cares for elderly individuals on a regular basis knows that physical health is only one part of their experience. Dealing with bouts of depression and isolation can greatly harm them and make their daily life hard to deal with. 

However, caregivers often have many great opportunities to help seniors with the burden of depression. 

In fact, it’s managing that aspect of the service that makes a good assisted living facility administrator.

Here are eight ways to keep a senior resident upbeat and feeling a part of the community at large.

1. Lighten Up the Day With Humor

When facing tough times or seemingly endless medical tests, seniors may forget about the lighter side of life. By setting aside time to share humorous stories from the past and even viewing classic comedies together on television, caregivers can make a big difference. 

During this bonding over an enjoyable topic, caregivers allow seniors to calm down and start laughing again.

This distraction can be important when an RCFE administrator notices an older person does not have many close friends. This individual might not receive many visits from family or friends outside the facility. 

By taking steps to ensure regular conversations or even by preparing jokes just for the occasion, caregivers change an older person’s mood for the better.

2. Allow Seniors to Help Out

Paradoxically, elders with too much help and too few opportunities to showcase responsibility can mentally check out and feel worse. This lack of control over their environment may lead to them having a more depressed outlook.  Everyone needs a sense of purpose, a way to give back or to feel their life still has value.

To combat this, an assisted living facility administrator can come up with a task or responsibility for them to accomplish regularly. This may include taking care of a pet or cleaning up a certain area of the building. 

Either way, a task that feels special and meaningful helps push feelings of unwantedness and depression away for older adults.

3. Encourage Good Bedtime Habits

Poor sleep can negatively affect anyone, and the elderly are no exception. By learning about proper rest and ways to help seniors cope with depression, caregivers can better address bad nighttime habits and create new ones. 

Restlessness at bedtime and strange waking hours are a few common symptoms of depression.

Some older adults may want to fall asleep during the day and stay up late at night, but that can make feelings of isolation even worse. 

Not only can these individuals not have the ability to talk with family or friends at these odd hours but they could also struggle with negative thoughts late at night. 

Helping them get up at daybreak and get ready to sleep at a regular time gives them the structure they need to deal with depression and isolation.

4. Help With Social Outings

As individuals age, it can be tougher to have people over to their place of residence or go out in public. Residents can then feel isolated and without a way to enjoy meaningful social interaction with friends or loved ones. An attentive caregiver who is willing to help can be the key to fixing this.

Encouraging seniors to reach out and connect with other people in their lives, like attending picnics or going on walks, may give them the emotional boost they need. 

An assisted living facility administrator can also discuss local volunteer opportunities or fun group activities that these older adults may enjoy. By offering options and talking up the benefits of social connections, seniors can see that there are ways to reduce isolation.

5. Drive Them Around

When seniors have to give up their licenses, it may feel like losing a part of their independence. However, caregivers do have a way to show older adults all the amazing sights they were able to see before. 

Taking seniors around in a car for a fun drive helps them relive happy moments and see how the outside world is doing.

This kind of thoughtful outing also allows for conversation and stops at local shops or stores. Spending quality time together in the car paves the way for a stronger bond and a lower likelihood of loneliness and depression. A caregiver can get meaningful insights into the struggles and mental health of an older person just by listening to them open up during this drive.

6. Care for Their Body

How a person looks on the outside can affect how they feel on the inside. Depression can creep in when seniors have no way to pay attention to the finer parts of grooming and cleaning. Beyond the regular amount of bathing and showering , a caregiver can make suggestions or assist with the application of nice lotions and skin care products.

Finding the right elderly resident skin regimen might seem like a challenge, but it is another opportunity to connect with your senior resident and learn about their specific taste in skin care products. 

Seniors may have a sense that  no one cares about their physical comfort or appearance, which can  contribute to feelings of depression. Attending to a disheveled resident or assisting a resident in changing out of soiled clothing  can help them to feel more confident. These acts reinforce a positive body image and demonstrates that we want them to feel good in their aging bodies.

7. Play Games Together

When elderly people fall into a spiral of negative thoughts and loneliness that can lead to health risks, it may be hard to concentrate on anything else. However, an activity centered on entertainment often gives them a break from the drudgery of real life. 

When a caregiver notices this lack of energy, they can pick out cards or another kind of interactive game to play with a senior to combat feelings of depression.

Whether this gaming session includes closely following the rules or making up their own rules, seniors can relax a little. Discussions about important topics may be easier to conduct when these older individuals have a stress release. 

This can potentially help facilitate an opening to discuss some of the issues causing the depression.

games at an RCFE

8. Think and Talk About Happy Memories

As people get older, they often reminisce about their younger years and enjoy discussing memories from the past at length. Although they may not state it out loud at first, elders often want to open up to caregivers in this way. 

Striking up a conversation with a leading question can be the impetus to a stronger connection and help fight against feelings of solitude in elders.

An Assisted Living Facility Administrator Should Stay Ready to Help

At first, depression and isolation may seem like overwhelming feelings to deal with in an older person. For an assisted living facility administrator, reaching out to help with a senior’s mental health and habits can be the first step on the road to a healthier and happier elderly resident. 

To learn more about assisted living education on this topic, contact us online.

About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.