The Elderly Kind of Blues

Seniors & Mental Health

Mental health is widely considered a new age concept, which is obscure to many members of the aging populations. Older generations ignored mental health issues and were more likely to address physical ailments. In regards to uncomfortable feelings, words such as “melancholy” were likely used to instead of “depression.” Older generations are more likely to express physical versus mental complaints. The avoidance of addressing mental health issues is linked to the extreme stigmatization of mental illness in previous decades. Unfortunately, the ongoing neglect of mental health problems becomes a habit transmitted to younger generations. Children of the aging populations often become caretakers and key advocates for their elder’s well-being, but find themselves covering all the basis of their parent’s health and well-being except mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans above the age 65 suffer from some form of depression. The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable populations to developing depression due to the experience of significant losses related to death, physical ability, and independence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, less than 5% of older adults living in the community show signs of depression, the percentage rises to over 13% among those who require home health care. Considering the extreme risk and vulnerability of the elderly population choosing home care that addresses the well-being of the whole person is essential. Holistic home-care is a new era approach to senior care that tailors care to enhance one’s social, emotional and physical well-being. Finding senior care that treats the whole person can be like searching for a needle in a haystack in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC.  This article will discuss the manifestation of depression among the elderly and the benefits of holistic care.Senior-Care-in-Washington-DC

Aging & Depression

It is common for people to experience depression at various points in their life in response to negative life events such as ended relationships, financial hardship, and interpersonal conflict. However, clinical depression manifest in mood and physical symptoms. Research shows that older adults are more likely to label their “down feelings” as pessimism or helplessness versus depression. Additionally, older versus young adults are less likely to endorse statements related to “feeling down” or “blue.” Older adults commonly display withdraw, less communication, increased sleeping, expressionlessness, and bodily neglect. In older adults, physical symptoms often accompany depression including, coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. Life events related to loss of loved ones and independence can exacerbate these symptoms. Unlike younger adults, older adults often lose their ability to engage in coping behaviors such as exercise, outings with friends, and travel to alleviate mental and physical symptoms. These circumstances leave older adults not only at greater risk of developing severe depression but little means to mitigate the suffering.

Senior Care & Depression

Nursing home residents and older adults with chronic illness are at greater risk of developing depression. This risk is due in large part to the lack of quality care available in nursing facilities with an unbalanced caregiver to resident ratios. This imbalance diminishes the amount of emotional, social, and physical support available to clients. Many nursing home facilities plan rigorously to design communities that cultivate social and physical well-being, only to find that a large percentage of residents don’t adequately utilize all that the facility has to offer. This underutilization is mainly due to physical and mental declines that limit their access and interest. Senior care facilities in major metropolitan cities such as Washington, DC find themselves overwhelmed and falling short of providing quality care as their mission statements often promise, due to understaffing and short-sighted approaches.

Holistic Care

Holistic care is a growing approach adopted by senior care providers in efforts to improve the quality of life of the aging population. Through this approach, caregivers are trained to assess and address the social, emotional, physical, and in some cases spiritual needs of the client.  Many nursing home facilities have begun to adopt the holistic approach to senior care. However, like any other service industry, quantity often reduces quality. Philia is a home-care agency that adopts the holistic approach to senior care offered only on a 1:1 basis to ensure quality. In addition to assisting with ADL’s, caregivers are trained to incorporate nutritional meal preparation, tailored exercise regimen, activity engagement, and emotional support. Each client’s care plan is designed to enhance their quality of life and well-being in oppose to maintain their present state of health. Holistically trained caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of depression specific to older adults and implement interventions that treat the physical, social, and emotional manifestations. The mind and body are interconnected, each impacting the other dynamically throughout one’s life. Quality senior care addresses both physical and psychological aspects of a person, recognizing that this is the key to total well-being.


Cavanaugh, J., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2014). Adult development and aging. Nelson Education.

Friedhoff, A. J., Ballenger, J., Bellack, A. S., Carpenter, W. T., Chui, H. C., Dobrof, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (1992). Diagnosis and treatment of depression in late life. JAMA268(8), 1018-1024.

Zarit, S. H., & Zarit, J. M. (2012). Mental disorders in older adults: Fundamentals of assessment and treatment. Guilford Press.

Dysphagia and Seniors – Causes and Treatments

Caregiver in Great Falls VA

Has your elderly loved one ever had trouble swallowing? If so, they could have dysphagia. Dysphagia occurs when the esophagus and throat Caregiver-in-Great-Falls-VAare not working properly, making it difficult for food and drinks to go down and into the stomach. This can be a scary experience for both the elders with this condition and their caregivers.

Fortunately, by understanding what causes dysphagia and how it can be treated, your loved one may be able to rid their swallowing problems once and for all.


If the elder is having trouble getting food and liquids down the esophagus, the following causes could be the culprit.

  • Previous stroke or spinal cord or brain injury
  • Issues with the immune system that causes it to become swollen and weak
  • The muscles in the esophagus randomly tighten, also known as esophageal spasm
  • The tissues of the esophagus become narrow and hard, also known as scleroderma
  • A health condition that can cause a blockage in the throat, such as GERD or an infection
  • Allergic reaction to food
  • Diverticula, or small sacs in the walls of the esophagus or throat
  • Cancerous or benign tumors in the esophagus
  • Masses that are located outside of the esophagus, like tumors, lymph nodes, or bone spurs
  • Dry mouth


If you witness any of the following symptoms in your parent, they most likely have dysphagia.

  • Coughing, choking, or gagging when attempting to swallow food
  • Trouble getting food or liquids down the throat the first time
  • Frequently feel as though food or liquids are stuck in the throat or chest
  • Unusual weight loss as a result of not getting enough food or liquids
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Heartburn or pain or pressure in the chest


Once the elder gets an official diagnosis from their doctor, here are some things they may recommend to treat their condition.

  • Change your diet. The doctor may want your loved one to eat or avoid certain foods.
  • Exercise. The goal is to strengthen various muscles needed for swallowing.
  • Endoscopy. A long, thin scope may be needed to find and remove any item that could be blocking the elder’s throat.
  • Surgery. In some severe cases, the doctor may want to perform surgery on the elder to remove the blockage.
  • Medication. If the elder has dysphagia as a result of their heartburn, GERD, or esophagitis, medication may be prescribed to manage the symptoms of these conditions.

Dysphagia is a terrifying condition and one that will make the elder feel as if they are choking. Help them overcome this condition by talking to their doctor as soon as you can.


If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Great Falls, VA, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.



Why Choose Community Gardening

Caregiver in Great Falls VA

Many seniors love gardening; but not all seniors have the space in which to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, or plants. That’s where aCaregiver-in-Great-Falls-VAcommunity garden can be beneficial.

Communities and individual farms all over the United States allow community gardens, in which local citizens—either collectively or individually—can have “ownership” of a small section. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, community gardens are “collaborative projects on shared open spaces where participants share in the maintenance and products of the garden,” including healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whether working a garden of their own or a community garden, seniors can derive so many benefits from it. Cognitively, gardening offers new skills while providing opportunities to utilize current or past skills, pay attention to tasks, make decisions and follow simple instructions. From a physical standpoint, they are doing exercises by focusing on various motor skills, without even realizing they’re getting exercise. This is important if your loved one isn’t real enthused with traditional exercise. Psychologically, they are getting a sense of self-worth, while developing an attitude that embodies nurturing and having responsibility for a living thing.

There are some community gardens that are strictly for the planting of flowers and the like. Restoration of natural areas and native plant gardens are also popular for some community gardens, while other gardens can have a variety of planting elements such as small orchards, herbs and even butterfly gardens.

As someone providing family caregiving for your loved one, if they want to work on a garden project, you may want to suggest a community garden as a great option for them. It would give them the chance to enjoy their hobby or favorite pastime, while enjoying the outdoors and fresh air. And, in addition to the benefits already mentioned, they could have these, as well:

  • They can enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers and plants; or grow and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, thereby being healthier.
  • Their social interactions can improve while working toward common goals with others.
  • They will be participating in creating green space, while at the same time, potentially beautifying vacant lots. Community gardens can also revitalize certain industrial areas, and revive and beautify public park land, provided the municipality allows a garden project to be established in a park area.
  • In some areas where community gardens have been started established, there has been a decrease in violence or other crime-related activity.

To learn about any community gardens in your area, you can contact your local municipality or university extension office, if you have one. They can also tell you if there is any kind of fee associated with having a section of land for a garden and if there are any restrictions on what can be planted there. You can also locate the closest gardens to you by visiting the web site for the American Community Garden Association, listed below.


If you or an aging loved one are considering CAREGIVER SERVICES IN GREAT FALLS, VA, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.