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.

Early Stage Dementia: What To Do

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. It can be helpful to involve Senior Care professionals, family and friends in the examination to provide their personal accounts of symptoms, as the individual may not be readily able to identify changes in themselves.

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. Caregivers and friends should provide the individual with support and empathy while preparing for upcoming challenges ahead. Senior Home Care professionals should discuss advance directives and preferred future plans of care 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. Finding holistic and comprehensive care in the Washington, D.C area can be challenging. However, care that is tailored to the needs of the individual and enhances their well-being is essential to ensuring longevity.


Alzheimer’s Association . (2017). Stages of Alzheimer’s. Retrieved from

Higuera, V., & Ellis, M. (2016, July 12). 10 Early Symptoms of Dementia. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. (2017). Dementia. Retrieved from

Could Your Elderly Loved One Have Mild Cognitive Impairment?

Senior Care in Washington DC

When your elderly loved one starts to have trouble with her memory, it’s not uncommon for both you and her to fear that she’s developing Senior-Care-in-Washington-DCdementia. It’s important to get a complete diagnosis from her doctor, though, because she could be dealing with something called mild cognitive impairment rather than dementia.

Trouble Following Instructions or Conversations

If your elderly loved one has difficulty following even simple instructions, she can easily become frustrated and may get “stuck” in the middle of some activities. Likewise, having trouble following conversations can make it difficult for her to socialize in the manner that she’s accustomed to. People can become frustrated if they feel that she’s simply not paying attention or if she seems to not care. Your loved one might not even notice that she’s having issues with these situations.

Losing Her Train of Thought Often

Your loved one may find that she often derails herself. She may have walked into a room for something and completely blanked on why she’s there and what she was doing. Or your loved one might be in the middle of a specific activity and then become distracted in the middle, leaving the entire project unfinished. She might remember later, but there could be a significant gap.

Forgetting Important Events or Appointments

Having a calendar an help everyone to keep track of important dates and appointments, but if your loved one is dealing with mild cognitive impairment, it’s possible that even a calendar is not much help. You may need to post reminders about important appointments in several locations, such as a note on her bathroom mirror, her bedroom door, and the refrigerator.

Forgetting Directions or How to Get to Familiar Locations

One issue that can potentially be dangerous, especially if your loved one drives on her own, is that she could forget how to get around in familiar locations. This can cause her to be late for important events or to take far longer to run errands than she usually does. A GPS device or other means of finding her way quickly can help in that situation.

Let your loved one’s other family members and senior care providers know if she’s dealing with mild cognitive impairment so that they can be ready to help out when necessary.

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

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Senior Care in Washington DC

If you are like most family caregivers, driving is something that you do virtually every day of your senior care journey. Driving is how you are Senior-Care-in-Washington-DCable to handle all of the tasks that you need to complete for your aging parent as well as your children and yourself. While multitasking is something that you might be able to incorporate into some of your daily tasks to improve efficiency, driving should not be one of those situations. Tackling several things at once can help you to get more done on a regular basis, but if you are doing it while driving, it is putting you, your passengers, and everyone else on the road in danger.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the ideal opportunity for you to recognize unsafe practices and adopt safer habits. Some things that you should know about distracted driving and its impact on safety include:

  • More than 3000 people are killed and more than 430,000 people are injured each year in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
  • Around 30 percent of drivers regularly utilize handheld devices such as text messaging on phones.
  • 75 percent of drivers admit to regularly seeing other drivers text messaging.
  • The average text messaging interaction, such as checking or sending a message, takes five seconds. This means that each time you check or send a text message, it is like driving several hundred yards with your eyes closed.
  • Distracted driving becomes even more dangerous when it occurs at the same time as distracted walking, which usually happens when text messaging or browsing the internet on a phone.


There are many activities that are considered “distracted driving” activities. These include:

  • Changing songs on an MP3 player, radio, or CD player
  • Sending or reading text messages
  • Watching videos
  • Reading, including books, magazines, phone or computer screens, or even maps
  • Making phone calls
  • Inputting information into a navigation system
  • Turning to talk to others in the car
  • Brushing hair
  • Applying makeup
  • Changing clothing
  • Squinting to read a sign
  • Cognitive limitations that impact the ability to concentrate or understand the process of driving


Of course, distracted driving is not just something that may impact you. If your aging parent is still driving, distracted driving can be a serious problem for him as well. Try these tips for helping you to handle distracted driving in your senior care journey with your parent:

  • Insist that he does not use his phone or mobile device for any reason when driving.
  • Consider making it a rule that he puts his phone on the back seat or in the glove compartment when driving.
  • Set his favorite channels on the radio and insist that he does not change them unless the car is not moving.
  • Make sure that he uses his hearing aid if he wears one, and his glasses or contacts at all times when driving.
  • If he is suffering from cognitive limitations, do not allow him to drive any longer. Hire a senior health care services provider who can provide reliable, safe transportation to wherever he needs or wants to go.


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