March 20 marks the International Day of Happiness, a holiday dedicated to celebrating the importance of happiness and well-being across the globe and establishing it as a universal human goal. The importance of a fulfilled and contented life, not merely the continuation of life, is an especially important concern for seniors. Seniors living at home can face many challenges in attaining general happiness. As an organization providing in-home caregiving services, we help raise awareness of such issues to better ensure seniors are living happily as well as healthily.
Depression is a Serious Concern
Depression in older adults is misdiagnosed and undertreated, and being homebound can exacerbate those concerns. A study indicated that 37.9 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receiving home healthcare from 2013-2014 had been diagnosed with depression—a population equating over 1.8 million individuals.
Advances in medicine have allowed seniors to enjoy longer lives, but physical health is only half of the battle. Living longer means more time coping with chronic conditions; 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic condition, and 77 percent have at least two. Such health issues can present serious challenges to maintaining quality of life. Mental health issues can also lead to a higher rate of physical complications. However, healthcare providers still often treat depression as a secondary concern to other health problems.
With the number of Americans over the age of 65 projected to reach 88.5 million by 2050 — twice what the population was in 2010 — it becomes even more important to shift the discussion to address senior happiness as well as physical health.
Seniors Face Unique Mental Health Barriers
Though depression and low mood affect all ages, seniors are often in a position where getting help is harder. Rates of loneliness among older adults are high, and social isolation can have serious impacts on health. The physical and emotional stress of dealing with health problems more prevalent in old age can also take a toll.
As people get older, they find themselves cut off from the cherished social connections and favorite activities they are no longer able to complete. As a result, many find it difficult to maintain the fulfillment they attained from these activities. Furthermore, this loss of positive activities can also mean a loss of healthy coping mechanisms and support structures. This can result in negative coping mechanisms, such as smoking or poor diet, leading to a vicious cycle of low mood.
Other common effects of aging can further impact a senior’s ability to help themselves through a rough mental period. Some seniors who have struggled with depression or anxiety their entire lives may find themselves unable to enact the coping mechanisms they have built up over the years.
Low Mood is Not a Fact of Aging
Though this may seem an obvious sentiment, it’s a sad fact that there is a misconception among seniors and caregivers that depression is simply a part of getting older. While it is true that seniors often face unique and difficult challenges, such as losing loved-ones, social isolation, and increasing medical problems, they can absolutely overcome these barriers.
Unfortunately, even seniors themselves can downplay their own suffering. The attitude that depression is a natural part of aging can lead seniors to think that they don’t need treatment. This makes it even more crucial to emphasize that seniors are just as capable of maintaining meaningful, long-term happiness as people at any other age. In fact, studies have shown that overall happiness is higher in a person’s 70s than it is in their 20s. With proper care, seniors can maintain happy and healthy lives long into the later years of life.
Home Care Provides Crucial Help
The vast majority of seniors wish to remain in their homes as long as possible as they age. Home care allows seniors to have greater independence, comfort, and familiarity with their settings and a sense of freedom and agency. Such factors can make a huge difference in a person’s mood. Having a trained caretaker in the home also provides a qualified person to notice the signs of decreasing mood and take steps to assuage them. Caregiving providers like Generations Home Care are dedicated to help.
Be sure to join us for our next post in this two-part series. We’ll explore the small yet powerful steps that seniors and caretakers can implement everyday in order to embrace happiness to the fullest.
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.
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.