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.

How Can the Emotional Support of Elder Care Help Your Parent after Heart Surgery?

Elder Care in Arlington VAElder-Care-in-Arlington-VA

Undergoing heart surgery can be an extremely intimidating experience for your aging parent. This level of nervousness and fear might not dissipate completely after the procedure is over. Many elderly adults feel apprehensive about transitioning out of the hospital care that they are likely to receive for 5 to 10 days following their procedure into a care setting in their own home. They may also worry about their ability to keep up with the guidelines and instructions that their doctor gives them, and may think that they are not going to be able to handle keeping themselves healthy as they recover. If your aging parent is going to have heart surgery soon and you worry that they are going to go through this, starting elder care for them may be the ideal option.


Some of the ways that the emotional support of elder care can help your parent after heart surgery include:

  • Knowing they are not alone. The thought of going into their recovery at home without constant care and attention like they get in the hospital can be frightening for a senior. If you are a distance caregiver or you have a busy schedule due to also caring for your children and maintaining a career, you might not be able to be in the home with them as often as they would like. Knowing that there is an elderly home care services provider who will be in the home with them, however, can be extremely encouraging and help them to feel less nervous at the prospect of being alone.
  • Reassuring them. Sometimes people just need some reassurance that they are doing well and that they will continue to do well. This care provider can give your parent this reassurance, offering them an emotional boost that will continue to motivate them through their recovery.
  • Companionship. Loneliness and isolation are very common among elderly adults, and they can make a serious impact on your parent’s health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated can lead to depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation that have a negative impact on their ability to heal properly. A care provider can offer companionship and support that will help your loved one feel better supported, less lonely, and more motivated to keep working toward recovery.
  • Compliance reminders. Compliance is a vital concept when it comes to recovering from a major surgery. Your parent’s doctor will give them specific guidelines and instructions before they leave the hospital and your parent must follow through with these in order to make the most of their surgery and avoid serious complications and issues. For some seniors, compliance is challenging due to cognitive limitations or simple forgetfulness. For others, they may not feel as though they “need” to comply or that their instructions are not reasonable. The care provider can offer the emotional support and guidance to understand why compliance is important. They can also offer reminders so that your parent stays on track with when and how they are to take their medications or follow other treatments and management activities.


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