Ideas to Help a Depressed Elder:
- The most important thing you can do is LISTEN. Many elders who are depressed feel no one wants to talk to them or hear what they have to say. They may feel no one can relate to what they are feeling. Open your heart to their story and allow them to be heard as you would like to be heard. See yourself in their eyes and reach out to them with compassion, gentleness, and respect.
- Try to bring them to ‘game time’ with others in the facility. Check with the facility’s Activity Director/Coordinator or look for the Activity Calendar to see if Bingo, Group Crossword Puzzle, Trivia Times, are available. Bring them to a sing-along, or offer to take them to the facility’s chapel for service. This could be valuable time to help your Elder make friends with others.
- Check with the nursing home’s Therapy Department and ask if you can accompany your resident to therapy. Ask if there is any way to make therapy more pleasant for the resident. Exercise helps alleviate tension, stress, and some symptoms of depression.
- Check for local senior centers that could provide activities and transportation for your resident.
- Offer to take them to local parades, festivals, or other events they may not otherwise be able to attend.
- Offer to read to them or create a mini ‘book club.’ Each of you agrees to read one or two chapters or a set of chapters and discuss what you read each time you visit. If you are of the same faith, you can begin by reading your favorite stories from your Holy Book and discussing what they mean to you, and branch out from there.
- Ask if they enjoy crafting. Bring simple crafts they may enjoy and create them together. Remember some elders may suffer from arthritis, so they may need your help. Listen to their direction so they can still feel involved in the activity.
- Many of our volunteers have included residents in their weddings, church functions, family gatherings, etc. Making elders feel they are still part of the community and valued as people does wonders to alleviate their depression.