Old age is mostly seen as a dismal phase of life mainly dedicated to rest, reminiscence and finding avenues to do things that one may have put aside earlier while busy in pursuing a career or fulfilling other responsibilities. However, the transition from the usually happening, exciting and lucrative period of youth to a comparatively low-key life in old age doesn’t come that easily for everyone. Events like the loss of loved ones, friends, career, decrease in day-to-day activities due to physical infirmity and other chronic and debilitating conditions take a heavy toll on the emotional and psychological well-being of older people.

Many people in this age find it difficult to cope with the changes in their lives, especially related to health, for example failing eyesight, decrease in hearing and restricted mobility, etc. These factors prove to be more overpowering if financial resources are limited as it restricts their spending capacity on their health and other requirements.

These and similar factors render an old person highly prone to negative thoughts and emotions which can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, anxiety and depression.

Old-age depression is mostly chronic, i.e. recurring and persistent, and has an own impact on a person’s physical and mental health, which in many instances leads to various other health concerns. Depressive adults stop enjoying and taking interest in their lives as they used to and this goes beyond just affecting their moods; over time it takes a toll on their level of physical energy, sleep, appetite, memory and physical wellbeing. However, one must remember that depression is not an inevitable part of old age and there are many ways which can help to reduce or prevent depression.

Adopting a healthy routine This can go a long way as nothing can help overcome challenges in life other than one’s strong willpower and stamina. A person who has reached old age and has retired must try to get up early in the morning, should after morning prayers indulge in yoga and other mild exercises recommended for the elderly; it can work wonders to keep one fresh and alert during the rest of the day. This not only ensures a positive energy and mood-boosting regimen but also enables one to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Connecting with people As a person grows old (s)he needs to have people around who can provide support, especially emotional support. Engaging in social activities where the chances of meeting other people of the same age are higher can help in looking beyond the problems of their own life. Saying goodbye to loneliness and being among other fellow humans is an integral aspect of dealing with old-age depression.

Tune in with your spirit Research has proved that regular meditation, prayers or getting involved in any sort of spiritual/religious activity has a huge impact on increasing the mental capacity, level of energy and  positivity. One can alleviate the symptoms of depression by focussing on what they have achieved so far and have at present instead of constantly regretting and pondering on negative memories of the past.

Use of technology It can be of great help if we encourage and help our seniors to make use of the internet for passing their free time. They can learn to use the internet and remain connected with their family members who live aboad, old colleagues and friends through email.

Latest web tools like skype can help them to see and interact with their loved ones which will ultimately reduce their loneliness and provide them virtual companionship at a time when physical mobility is already restricted.

Voluntary services Participating in some sort of social services can be a good idea for getting mental peace and satisfaction. There are numerous NGOs, rehabilitation centres, special people care centres, hospitals, etc. where people require help and support.

By spending some time with such organisations in a voluntary capacity not only keeps one busy but also gives them a sense of worthiness at this age. This positive frame of mind can motivate and encourage them to deal with their own depression.

Getting treated Those who are in chronic or acute states of depression must see a psychiatrist or a psychologist for help and follow their treatment regimen.

Old age is unavoidable; however, how gracefully we embrace this golden phase of life is what matters the most. With a positive frame of mind and a healthy, productive lifestyle we can surely pass our old age with contentment and peace of mind.

Updated Apr 28, 2013 05:08am

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