The Elderly population who suffers from depression presents some different issues that need to be addressed. Many of them struggle to make it on a limited income from Social Security. Pensions are disappearing from the work force and Retirement Funds took a hit in the last recession in the United States. The cost of resources and services that have had a direct impact on the elderly have gone up such as: natural gas, electricity, water, trash, property taxes, car and home insurance, groceries, and gasoline. Add to that, increasing out-of-pocket costs of health insurance.
Those who were getting Food Stamps from the Government to help meet the cost of groceries, have had that reduced. Funds for Meals on Wheels, Senior Services, and help for nursing homes are being cut. I know of one woman who was discharged from the nursing home she had lived in for ten years because of cuts in funds she was receiving. She had no relatives left to help out. Another woman I know has to choose between one necessity or another in order to make ends meet. They have little money for extras. What do you say when an elderly woman says the highlight of her week is to go to the grocery store?
There are people who travel and have money to travel all over the world, but that’s a small part of this population. The woman who once knitted for pleasure or made quilts may not have the money to do that or eat out as she once did. When you are older, you may not be able to paint your house, or mow and edge the lawn, clean out gutters,, do the repairs that need fixing. Children often live far away so money has to be allocated for repairs. Money can be helpful in creating hope, and pleasure in doing fun activities but most of the elderly don’t have the money to do this.
Illnesses in the elderly are up as well as the cost of treatment. They are more apt to break bones like the hip which can be a severe injury that limits getting around and sometimes causes death. People who are depressed need to get out but often are unable to because of physical injuries.
A sense of identity, having a purpose for living, feeling like you belong in a community are all needed in treating depression in the older population. Most of them no longer do the job that once gave them purpose. The friends they developed and relied upon are now dying around them. They may no longer be able to go to church because of illness or may not have the gasoline to go. A way of life that gave them structure, purpose, relationships, money, a sense of identity, is now gone. Society is rapidly changing around them. They are losing every thing that once anchored them, and gave them a sense of identity. It would be normal for them to experience depression.
Family ties are important to the elderly. It is common for children and grandchildren to live many hours away. Some of the older population know if they fall, help may not be available for a while. This is a real problem. They worry about falls, children and grandchildren forgetting them, being able to pay their bills, having the energy to do their household chores, being able to do chores safely, and climbing stairs and step stools without falling. When we are younger, none of that is a problem. For the elderly, it is hard to find the resources that could improve the depression they are suffering from. The Federal and State Governments are cutting programs and funds and are looking at this population to decrease spending. These are difficult realities when dealing with depression in the elderly. Their needs are many. Case management would help. More programs tailored around their needs is essential. Solutions to these problems need to be created and we must fight for them when program budgets are being cut. For the good of society, we need to see that we do not fail in caring for the children and the elderly. After all, we too will grow old one day.