You’ve raised your children and now you are caring for your parents. Some of the same thoughts and concerns apply. Your teenagers may have dealt with anxiety, depression and even thoughts of suicide. You learned the signs and watched carefully knowing that they may need help but not ask for it. Now you need to be aware of the same signs in your aging senior.
According to statistics from the CDC, over 7000 people over the age of 65 died by suicide in 2013. This number is likely much higher because often suicide isn’t listed as the cause of death. Older men are the highest group with white males over 85 being at the highest risk of committing suicide in the adult population.
Depression is the leading trigger while mental illness, physical illness, pain, isolation and the fear of being a burden are also strong contributors. So, how can you help your beloved senior? First, have open dialogue with them regarding depression and help them realize that it isn’t unusual to have these feelings. And if they are really struggling, help them connect with a mental health expert.
The elder’s feelings of despair and loneliness are real and we need to help them understand that it isn’t a weakness (especially men) or an imposition to ask for help. Just like teenagers, seniors are unlikely to want to talk about their feelings. It’s up to those closest to them, family, friends, and caregivers, to help them find worthiness and kindness in their elder days.