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.

Spring Cleaning and Organization In The Washington DC Area

It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about spring cleaning, which likely means some serious decluttering, reorganization, scrubbing and polishing. Spring is the time that we all begin thinking about cleaning and organizing our homes. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that a good spring cleaning is a worthwhile exercise.


But did you know that it can also benefit your health and wellbeing? Below are some reasons why clearing out those closets and grabbing the polish can actually good for you. Let the cleaning commence!

In the Washington, D.C area, many residents lead busy schedules that prevent them from routine spring cleaning as other responsibilities become prioritized in the “to-do-list”. Spring Cleaning can increase productivity. Making the effort to declutter and organize your home or office can save you tons of time looking for or replacing lost items in the future. Organization makes you more productive, while the cleaning process itself can increase energy levels. We all need to learn to let go. If you haven’t used something since the last spring clean, it might be time to say goodbye. Cleaning can be a great way for Senior Care professionals to get clients active and engaged.

Spring cleaning is also healthy. Many elderly individuals struggle with allergies but already take a slew of medications leaving little room for allergy medication. A good spring clean can help you avoid allergy symptoms and lower Asthma attacks. Removing allergens from the home can make you feel healthier, especially at a time when allergies are rife. You want to try to get those hard to reach places too where dust build up. Make sure though to ask for help moving big pieces of furniture or climbing up ladders when going for those hard-to-reach spots.


Spring cleaning can make you happy. Taking the time to thoroughly clean and maintain a tidy home makes people happier, studies have shown. The act of cleaning provides a sense of satisfaction, which in turn can put you in a good mood. Also, putting on some of your favorite music while cleaning can make it even more fun!

Spring cleaning can help to reduce stress. Cleaning and organizing your personal spaces lets you enjoy a tidier and more organized environment and this can relieve stress. Levels of stress can also be reduced during the act itself as cleaning is considered to be therapeutic. But make sure to always be realistic. If it’s all getting too much, take a break. It’s not a race after all.


Lastly, Spring leaning can help you to focus. Those who make a point of clearing out the clutter once in a while are able to free up the brain for more essential decision-making, according to a study carried out by the founder of America’s Anxiety Disorder Center. A thorough clean helps to clear your mind of things that need to be done around the house and makes it easier to focus on other more important things. You should concentrate though on one room at a time to make sure you get the job done properly

Recognizing Early Stage Alzheimer’s in the Washington DC area

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition that affects each individual differently. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for roughly 80% of all new dementia diagnoses. Each stage of Alzheimer’s introduces symptoms that directly impacts the cognitive and functional abilities of the individual. In the early stage of the disease, symptoms are generally mild and may be difficult to notice. At this stage, the individual may functional independently with the ability to complete all of their own activities of daily living. However, they may begin experiencing frequent memory lapses or the inability to identify familiar words. Friends and family may notice the individual struggling with performing routine tasks or maintaining organization. During a medical examination, doctors may identify problems in memory or concentration.

Common challenges in the Early-Stage of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulties with planning or organization
  • Difficulties with recalling the right word or name for familiar objects
  • Difficulties with performing social or work tasks
  • Frequent memory lapses
  • Frequently losing or misplacing valuable objects
  • Difficulties with retaining new information
  • Difficulty following storylines
  • Deteriorating sense of direction

Once medical examinations are completed and an Alzheimer’s dementia diagnosis is received, it’s important to optimize the safety and quality of life of the individual. Family, friends, and the care team should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Conversations regarding advance directives and preferred future plans of care should take place with the individual, to ensure that their wishes are upheld when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. Take the time to carefully plan for comprehensive and holistic care which meets the entire needs of the individual– it’s the best way to honor their life and legacy.







Featured Caregiver: Katy T.

Featured Caregiver providing Senior Care in Washington DC

Katy T.

Have you ever gotten a mute person to talk? Well, Philia’s caregiver, Katy, has. She worked with a woman who was considered mute for no medically known reason. When she started working with a woman at an assisted living facility, everyone told Katy to not bother talking with the woman, because she can’t or won’t talk back.

But Katy understood that not talking wasn’t the same as not hearing or understanding. So, day in and day out, Katy would talk with her client. And one day, her client answered back.  Katy was so excited, she started to cry.

But that is how Katy is. She has a deep understanding of the human condition and her empathy and understanding of her clients enables her to develop deep connections with them.

Katy has been working with Philia for over two years.


Caregiver Outings: Supporting the Local High School Theater Department with Your Seniors

Caregivers in Washington DC

Caregivers in Washington DCGoing on outings with your elderly loved ones can be a tremendously enriching and enjoyable element of your caregiver journey with them. By heading out of the home and doing new things together you can stimulate their minds, encourage them to get more physical activity into their routine, and create memories that you can cherish well into the future.

One fantastic way for you to get your parents more active, support their mental and emotional health, and get them involved in the community around them is to support the local high school theater department by attending plays. Going out to the theater is always a special occasion that encourages you to look your best, share in conversation, and enjoy an event that will trigger memories, stimulate your senses, and boost your mental and emotional health. Going to a large professional theater, however, can be extremely expensive and can create an overwhelming experience for an elderly adult, particularly if your seniors suffer from limitations and challenges that might be difficult or even impossible to address when in that situation. By choosing to go to the local high school theater productions you can not only offer support and encouragement to the young actors, offer financial help to the department so that they can continue to nurture teenagers in their pursuit of the arts, and enjoy a more relaxing and casual evening, but you can also feel confident that the environment is more conducive to helping a senior who may need to leave the production or who cannot handle the atmosphere or stimulation of a larger theater.

Use these tips to help you create a memorable and meaningful evening in your caregiver journey with your elderly loved ones by supporting the local high school theater department when you attend a play:
Research the options. If you live in an area that has several high schools within a relatively close distance of each other, make sure that you take the time to research the seasons of each of the different departments. While the schools will likely put on their productions close to one another, they will all do different ones. This is your chance to choose a play that you know your parents will enjoy, such as a musical or a familiar play from when they were younger. Find information through the social media accounts of the different school departments or by contacting the department head from each school.
• Buy tickets in advance. The lines to purchase tickets at the door can be extremely long and if the school is putting on a popular play there is always a chance that it will sell out. Contact the department to find out how you can purchase tickets in advance and ask if there are special seating considerations for seniors. They may be able to arrange for your loved ones to enter the theater first so that you do not need to wait in line or get caught up in the wave of people all trying to enter at once.
• Ask about matinees. Though not common, schools sometimes put on matinee performances of their most popular plays. These will be less crowded and because they are earlier in the day they will be less stressful for your loved ones.
• Choose seating carefully. Choose where you sit with your seniors every carefully. You want to take into consideration them being able to see and hear the production well, but also how difficult it will be to get them into and out of that seat. If they may need to leave during the production, such as if they need to use the restroom or are overwhelmed and need a break, you will want to be close enough to an exit that you can leave surreptitiously. Consider visiting the school on an afternoon before the production and asking for a tour of the theater so that you can get familiar with it before you come to the play with your seniors. Explain the situation and allow them to give you recommendations about where to sit.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring a professional caregiver in Washington DC, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.