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.

Simple Ways for Your Parent to Spend Time with Their Grandchildren during Intergeneration Month

Elderly Care in Fairfax VAElderly-Care-in-Fairfax-VA

If you are like many family caregivers, you are a member of the sandwich generation. That is, the adult children who are sandwiched between caring for their adult parents while also raising their own children. This can be a stressful and sometimes overwhelming position to be in, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and beneficial. September is Intergeneration Month. This is the ideal time for you to focus not on all of the separate care efforts that you have to put forth for your children and your parent, but how you can combine these efforts and encourage them generations to spend more time together and benefit from one another. This not only helps your parent and their grandchildren spend quality time making cherished memories together and offering each other emotional and cognitive benefits, but it also helps to ease stress and pressure on you by reducing how often you need to spread yourself thin to take care of everyone who needs you.


Let these ideas inspire you to come up with your own ways for your parent to spend quality time with their grandchildren during Intergeneration Month and throughout the rest of the year:

  • Meals together. It used to be that families always sat down together to eat dinner. This was a time for them to reconnect and have conversations. Today’s busier lifestyles, however, have made this largely a thing of the past. Reestablish this tradition in your family if only a couple of times a week. Encourage your parent and children to prepare a dish together or to be responsible for setting the table so that they have a contribution to make to the meal and something special to do together.
  • Talk about the family. How much do your children really know about their family? Encourage them to sit down with your aging parent and find out more about the people who came before them. Go through photo albums or watch old home movies. This can give them a greater sense of identity and strengthen their connection with cultural, religious, and familial traditions so that they can share them with future generations.
  • Let them learn from one another. Your children and your parent have lived in very different times and each has their own set of skills, knowledge, and understandings that they can share with the other. Have them choose some of these that they want to share with the other and spend some time teaching them. This can be your parent teaching your child to cook a favorite dish while that child shows your parent how to use a mobile device, or your parent telling your child what it was like for them to experience moments in history while your child gives them a different perspective on today’s pop culture.


If you feel that you are not able to give your parent the time and attention that they need to thrive, or you simply feel that they would benefit from having a more varied approach to care, now may be the ideal time for you to consider starting elderly care for them. Having an elderly home care services provider in the home with your aging parent means that you can have peace of mind knowing that even if you are not able to be with them, they will receive the level of care, assistance, and support that they need and deserve. Through a personalized approach to this care and assistance the care provider will be able to help your parent meet and manage their needs in the way that is right for them, while also encouraging them to maintain as much of their independence as possible through modified tasks, assistance, and support.


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