Depression is a serious mental health problem that affects individuals of all ages, including the elderly. As depression can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being, it is vital to address it as best as possible and in a timely manner. If you own or operate a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE) and are looking for means to help residents that may be feeling depressed, we are here to help. Continue reading for some suggestions and guidance. Please note that as we are not medical or mental health professionals, all tips will be non-medical in nature.
Increase Focus on Social Interaction and Activity Participation
Some people experience depression brought on (or worsened) by feelings of loneliness and isolation, or a sense that there is nothing to do outside of the normal daily routine. It is therefore extremely worthwhile to shake things up a bit and plan ongoing exciting activities that will bring residents together in shared enjoyment. While you and your staff can generate ideas on your own, you could also seek input directly from the residents. Involving them in this process may further entice them to participate as much as possible.
For those residents with family members that they have positive relationships with, it is also important to facilitate either direct interaction or a viable alternative where feasible. Speak with your residents and encourage them to invite nearby family to visit as frequently as desired. If a resident has family that he or she is close to but doesn’t live nearby, helping set up video chats could still make a big difference and allow the resident to begin feeling a bit better. Keep in mind that residents will differ in terms of their willingness to participate. It is therefore best to offer gentle encouragement and go at their individual pace instead of forcing the matter.
Lend an Ear and Maintain a Pleasant Atmosphere
Sometimes just having someone to truly listen without judgment can be quite beneficial in addressing depression. If you and your staff notice that residents appear to be struggling or withdrawn, let them know that you are available to listen and provide input if that’s what they would like. While some seniors may be quick to open up once the offer to listen is made, others may remain guarded and take longer to respond. Try not to feel dejected if residents rebuff your offer. Letting them know that you are there to lend an ear is important, whether they ultimately take you up on that offer or not.
Additionally, you and your staff will want to do all in your power to keep a consistent positive attitude and to convey that positivity to residents through your words and actions. Positivity is contagious, and working to maintain a pleasant and hopeful atmosphere at the facility can assist in raising spirits. Be sure to let residents know that they are truly valued members of the community that have a lot to contribute, bringing up specific examples where applicable.
Encourage Residents to Increase Physical Activity and Get Quality Rest
Exercise, particularly routine exercise, can be tremendously beneficial for one’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Therefore, it is a great idea to encourage residents to get up and be active as much as they can. Some residents may feel that their physical ailments prevent them from exercising. With these individuals, try to find basic/low intensity exercises that they can do without risking any kind of injury. Exercise can provide a great sense of accomplishment while helping seniors snap out of any ruts they may find themselves in. The more time they spend participating in physical activity, the less time they have to sit around and ruminate on their problems.
You’ll also want to take stock of how your residents are sleeping. Insufficient sleep, and/or low quality sleep, can cause residents to feel worse or otherwise make it far more challenging for them to improve. If any residents are struggling to sleep well, assess the situation to the best of your ability and see if you can pinpoint any possible changes that could make a difference.
If you have any questions about the information presented here, or would like to learn about our insurance products for RCFEs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (805) 413-5668.