Geriatric Psychiatrist Questions Geriatric Depression

How can I help my grandmother with her depression?

My grandmother has been very depressed since my grandfather passed away and she had to move in with me and my family. She was always so energetic but now I can hardly get her out of bed on some days. How can I help her?

12 Answers

It's wonderful that you want to help your grandmother during this difficult time. Here are a few suggestions on how to support her:

1. Encourage her to talk about her feelings: Let her know that you are there for her and that she can talk to you about anything. Sometimes, just having someone to listen can make a big difference.

2. Help her stay active: Encourage her to engage in activities that she enjoys, such as going for walks, gardening, or doing puzzles. Physical activity and mental stimulation can help improve mood.

3. Seek professional help: Consider consulting a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who can provide support and guidance tailored to her needs.

4. Create a supportive environment: Ensure that she feels loved and supported at home. Spend quality time with her, involve her in family activities, and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

5. Consider medication: If her depression is severe, it may be necessary to consult a doctor to discuss the possibility of medication to help manage her symptoms.

Remember that every individual is different, and it's important to approach this with sensitivity and patience. If you need further assistance or resources, feel free to ask for more help.
I'd recommend finding a therapist who can do Telehealth with her from home, who is experienced in treating depression and grief/loss with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
People over the age of 60 years are the fasting growing segment in the population all over the world. Depression is an ongoing problem for seniors. Moving in with family is often one of the most effective tools, providing the household is a healthy environment. However, encouraging the person to make new and old connections is most important. In a 80+ year study, by Harvard, researchers discovered that community and Social connections are the key to happiness. Isolation and loneliness are often the keys to unhappiness. Throughout history, most of humanity lived in villages, tribes, or communities. No one lived alone. Becoming connected to the community will help seniors feel a sense of belonging. Encourage loved ones to contact old friends and to participate in hobbies that they like or are willing to try, such as a card game or book club.
Aside from being supportive, it is also important to give people time to go through the normal grieving process. It can be difficult for family members to discriminate between normal grief and what might be considered clinical depression. Perhaps getting the opinion of either her family physician or offering to have her see a mental health professional would be helpful in sorting this out. Then, the professional who sees her can accurately assess her condition and suggest procedures that can be potentially helpful.
Hi, I think she needs a consultation with a geriatrically trained psychiatrist. If one is not available, you might want to start with her primary care doctor. She may need a routine medical workup for depression, talk therapy, and possibly medication.
Depression in elderly is more responsive to treatment than in younger ones!
Please get her seen by a Telepsychiatry (for your convenience) appointment to start her treatment with a suitable antidepressant and supportive therapy
Seems like your grandmother might be clinically depressed. How long ago did your grandfather pass away? If it’s been more than 4 months, it’s time for treatment interventions (medications and/or therapy). Consult with your grandmother’s doctor. Depending on where you live, there may be lots of group support services.
It sounds like her grieving has turned into depression. Make an appointment with her doctor to discuss antidepressant medication. In addition, encourage her to go to a grief counselor. You need to also be aware that in elderly people, there are other things that can look like depression. For example, hearing loss or early symptoms of dementia can cause symptoms in the elderly that mimic depression. A urinary tract infection in the elderly can cause confusion.
I am sure it is very upsetting to see your grandmother who was always so energetic and vibrant but after the passing of her husband, she may be depressed. Your grandmother would need your support. She may benefit from first talking about all those years and myriads of experiences she had with your grandfather. You can help her by finding a social support group for elderly as she may benefit from a senior citizen center that provides all kinds of activities. There are grief/loss support groups which may help her and also individual therapy. I hope your grandmother regain her energy and continue living life with her loved ones.
Coping with the loss of a close friend or family member can be one of the hardest challenges that many of us face. This is particularly true for older adults as their spouse generally has been a stable part of their world for many years. They generally had certain household responsibilities that the other person didn't have to perform or only rarely performed and when the other person is suddenly gone, it can make for a difficult adjustment period. Everyone reacts differently to death and employs personal coping mechanisms for grief. From a caregiver standpoint, you can help them through the grieving process by sharing the sorrow through talking about their feelings of loss or shared memories; offer her practical help by helping her complete errands; be patient in that it can take a long time to recover from a major loss (make yourself available to talk); and encourage professional help when necessary. Don't hesitate to recommend professional help if she is experiencing too much pain to cope alone. This can be done by joining a support group (bereavement and grief) or individual therapy or consulting with her primary care physician to discuss the pros/cons of depression medication.

Your grandmother will need time to grieve. You can google the stages of grieving to learn more. Take time to honor her depressed feelings, and allow her time and space to be sad. During this period take some time to bring up positive happy memories about her husband. Memories that can make her smile or laugh. She may also cry while laughing which is normal to feel all those emotions at once. You can also do some small things like make her her favorite dish for dinner. Remember grieving is a process and takes time.

I hope this is helpful,

Ashly Witkowiak, LCSW
She should be evaluated by a mental health professional. She may just need talk therapy, but might require antidepressant medication. I would also suggest a grief support group.