Every person has experienced loss, heartache, and sadness. Life throws a lot of curveballs, and some hit harder than others. When we have a social support system, a healthy state of mind, and the medical assistance we need, life’s setbacks are easier to face. But when we’re isolated, trapped with negative thoughts, and cut off from the healthcare we need, it gets harder and harder to cope. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and it’s important not to leave seniors out of the discussion. With the COVID-19 crisis leading to increased isolation paired with an ongoing rise in suicides, many seniors are more at risk than ever. A caregiver or family member can provide the support seniors need in these difficult times, but the warning signs can be difficult to detect.
If you or a loved one are in crisis, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 — press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line or use Lifeline Chat.
Seniors Face Difficult Life Events
There are many reasons why a person might want to take their own life. However, seniors are uniquely at risk for many known factors that contribute to depression and suicide ideation. In many ways, seniors face more difficult situations than any other age group. With old age comes the increased likelihood of losing friends and loved ones, either to illness or natural causes. Some 80 percent of seniors suffer from at least one chronic medical condition which can severely impact their quality of life. Old hobbies may become difficult or impossible due to a loss of mobility. And the physical changes that come with getting older can be difficult to adjust to, which only compounds other challenges
Seniors account for 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 18 percent of U.S. suicides. This statistic is startling enough, but the reality of senior suicides may be much worse. As many as 40 percent of senior suicides may be under-reported, because deaths from overdose or self-neglect may not be classified as suicides.
Depression Can Play A Role
Depression is a sadly common ailment, affecting over 264 million people worldwide. Seniors are also at risk, with a study finding that 40 percent of senior Medicare recipients had been diagnosed with some form of depression. Though having a psychiatric disorder such as depression is a major factor in suicidal ideation, it is by no means a sole contributor. Thoughts of suicide can arise as a result of life events, mental illness, or the combination of both.
Depression is a factor of suicide, not a requirement. In fact, over half of people who commit suicide had no known preexisting mental illness. It’s important to remember that a person can still be suicidal without having a mental illness. Attributing suicide to mental illness alone may cause worrying symptoms to slip under the radar.
Unfortunately, many seniors do not seek treatment for their depression because they believe it is an inevitable part of aging. Having another person in the house to touch base with seniors is a good way to catch worrying symptoms early.
The Pandemic Has Worsened Existing Concerns
Isolation has always been a problem for seniors, a third of whom live alone. Even those who live in care facilities may experience isolation, as COVID-19 makes family visitation impossible. Being unable to see grandchildren or spend time with friends safely would have a detrimental effect on anyone’s mood. Let alone when paired with the uncertainty of a pandemic.
Though it’s too early to have concrete data on the pandemic’s effect on senior suicide rates, the correlation of risk factors is clear. Now is the time to ensure that you or the senior in your life is getting adequate help. A home caregiver can shatter the cycle of isolation, which may be a risk for suicide. They can provide the comfort of companionship and a sympathetic ear while looking for signs of untreated depression.
Sometimes, having another person on your side can make all the difference. Caregivers can offer the support that seniors need and connect them with life-saving mental health resources. Across the continuum of care, Generations Home Care is here for seniors.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life. Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.