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.

Philia Featured Caregivers

Philia nannies and senior caregivers


Our Philia Nanny- Shelly

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?Caregiver-in-McLean-VA

Shelly loves spending time with her family and friends who Shelly is extremely close with. She loves taking her dog to the dog park. Her dog is more like her child 😉 And she also enjoys going to church on Sundays. Shelly is very strong in her faith. Always has been. Shelly also enjoys writing poetry and her newest interest is in photography.


What do you enjoy doing with your clients?

Shelly loves doing arts and crafts. Anything from coloring to sand art or water colors. Shelly likes anything outdoors where we can explore at playgrounds or nature walks.


What do you enjoy about caregiving?

Shelly has been working with kids for almost 18 years since she was in high school. She loves what she does. She started working in the church nursery then got her first job at a summer camp as a camp counselor. She was also a preschool teacher for two year olds. She got her first job as a nanny 10 years ago and fell in love with the one on one aspect. Shelly loves being a role model and teaching children and watching them grow. It is very fulfilling and being with children is very refreshing!



Our Philia Senior Caregiver in Washington DC- BeatriceCaregiver-in-McLean-VA

I grew up in a humble background in a Kenyan village. The circumstances under which we grew up taught us to appreciate, love and care for people whenever we had an opportunity to do so. Our parents always instilled in us the attitude of flexibility in all walks of life, they often said we needed it to survive anywhere. For that case I grew up loving people, being very flexible and always learned to be empathetic, imagining myself in their stead.
After my dad passed away I decided to be available and care for my ailing mother for a long time. I enjoyed taking care of her as a form of give back to the big sacrifice she made in our lives. My care for her potentially made a difference in her life, as I pitched in to do whatever was needful. This made me develop a desire to help others in this way. I like being physical in my job using my body as well as my brain. I feel that when I will be older I would want someone like myself there to help me, hence my motivating factor in treating people seniors and kids with uttermost care and abundant love.



If you or an aging loved one are considering  Nanny SERVICES IN MCLEAN, VA, or Senior Care In Washington dc please call the friendly staff at Philia today at 202-607-2525.


Boosting Your Loved One’s Brain Power

Caregiver in McLean VA

You’ve no doubt hear the expression “use it or lose it.” That phrase could be used to apply to many circumstances in life, including using ourCaregiver-in-McLean-VA brain power.

If you’re the family caregiver for a loved one, or even if you have a professional agency providing senior care for them, but you still play an active role in their life, you may want to consider the benefits of them learning a new skill or hobby. You may even want to learn how to do something new with them. What a wonderful bonding experience that could be!

Keep their brain as active as possible can help ward off Alzheimer’s or other dementia and keep their brain finely-tuned and sharp as they progress through their senior years. If they already suffer from a form of dementia and are in the early stages, keeping the mind busy learning new things can help slow the disease’s progression down some.

We’re not talking about doing Sudoku or other types of puzzles (though those are good brain exercises, too). We’re talking about learning a brand new skill. Maybe it’s taking up gardening, or learning about and planting new things, if they’re already an avid gardener; perhaps it’s learning a new language or taking up birdwatching; it could be learning how to do oil painting or woodworking; even photography; you name it. Whatever it is, it should be something new.

Our brains benefit the most from a hobby or activity that is entirely new to us and uses different pathways in our brains that we normally use. One reason for that is because an older brain often has difficulty remembering things that were so second nature to it when it was younger, that no thought has to be given to doing something. Conversely, only those activities that are new and demanding are likely to keep the mind sharp into the senior years.

A study of 200 retired folks found that those who were taught a course where they learned something they’d never known or done before, had better memories after 12 weeks than those who were engaged in social events or things they’d done before.

So encourage your loved one to get involved in some new hobby or to learn a new skill—ideally something they’d be interested in; otherwise it won’t hold their interest. Not only would that not benefit them, you if you were doing it with them, you may end up learning the new skill all on your own, when the point was to learn something together.

At the end of the day, the better they take care of their brain power now, the better it will serve them later on.

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