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.

5 Ways to Help Prevent Falls Outside Your Elderly Loved One’s Home

Senior Care in Chevy Chase MD

It’s dangerous enough for your elderly loved one to fall inside her home, but taking a fall outside her home can leave her exposed to the elements while she’s injured. Try following some of these suggestions.Senior-Care-in-Chevy-Chase-MD

Remove Leaves, Ice, and Snow as Quickly as Possible

Any types of obstacles are dangerous for your elderly loved one. But hoses and other lawn implements are usually a more obvious obstacle than natural ones are. Whether they’re wet or dry, leaves can slip right out from under your elderly loved one’s feet. Ice and snow are just as dangerous and should be cleared from walkways as quickly as you can manage it.

Give Your Loved One Plenty of Time to Walk from the House to the Car

When it’s time to go somewhere or when you’re just getting home, allow your loved one plenty of time to get between the house and the car. Feeling even a little bit rushed can cause your loved one to pick the wrong next step, which could lead to a fall. Instead, factor in plenty of time for all types of travel, especially by foot.

Offer Your Loved One a Steady Hand or Encourage Her to Use a Walker

While your loved one is walking outside, offer her a hand or arm to help steady her. Your loved one may feel more secure that way. If she’s loathe to accept even that much help, another option is to encourage her to use a walker or a cane when she’s walking outside. Both can help to steady her in the event that she encounters an obstacle.

Use a Cart or Rolling Walker to Carry Items

If your elderly loved one frequently carries items with her from the house to the car and vice versa, it’s a good idea to set up a system to keep her hands free. Using a cart or even a rolling walker allows your loved one to keep her hands free and she’ll be more likely to concentrate on her footing.

Install Automatic Lights Outside

Automatic lighting is a great tool for your loved one because she doesn’t have to worry about remembering to turn on the lights before she comes outside. Since they’re on an automatic sensor, they turn on as soon as she’s within range of the sensor. Having bright lighting available allows her to spot any obstacles before they trip her up.

Ask your loved one’s senior care providers to help you determine what other potential issues are a specific fall risk for your elderly loved one.

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Chevy Chase, MD, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.

Could Your Senior Loved One Benefit From Tai Chi?

Senior Care in Chevy Chase MD


Everyone knows that exercise and physical activity is important for elderly adults.  However, some forms of exercise like running or climbing Senior-Care-Chevy-Chase-MDstairs may cause elderly adults unneeded pain and can even raise the risk of falls.  In addition, exercise should be something that elderly adults can do for enjoyment, not something that they dread!  If your elderly loved one doesn’t enjoy most traditional exercise or is worried about pain, it may be time for them to look into tai chi, an alternative form of physical activity that is as good for the mind as it is for the body.


What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that has been developed into a great form of exercise. It is a gentle form of exercise that focuses on breathing and performing a series of movements that flow together seamlessly.  While practicing tai chi, the body is constantly in motion, but it is a gentle, graceful, and low impact kind of motion.  Tai chi is excellent for elderly adults who are new to exercise or who are looking for an activity that will be easy on the joints and convenient to do regularly.  Tai chi can be done alone or elderly adults can join a tai chi group class.


What are the Health Benefits of Tai Chi?

Doing tai chi has all of the benefits of any other form of exercising and then some.  It helps elderly adults maintain strong muscles and bones and helps them improve their quality of life.  It promotes relaxation and a happy mood as it fights stress.  Elderly adults will find that after regularly practicing tai chi, they will become stronger, more flexible, and have more energy overall.


How Can my Loved One Practice Tai Chi?

If your elderly loved one is interested in learning tai chi, they are taking the first step toward improved health and improved quality of life.  Many fitness centers and community centers offer tai chi classes and they may even have tai chi classes that are specifically designed for elderly adults.  In a tai chi class, your loved one can learn the art of tai chi and get some great exercise as well as enjoy the social aspect of a group class.  If a group class isn’t an option, there are plenty of tai chi DVDs that elderly adults can watch at home to learn how to do tai chi.  This can be a great option in the wintertime, when it is harder for elderly adults to get out and about.


As with any new exercise program, it is important that your elderly loved one gets clearance from a doctor before starting tai chi.  If the doctor gives their approval, your elderly loved one will be on their way to living a healthier, more relaxed lifestyle with the help of tai chi.


If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Chevy Chase, MD, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.