How to combat depression: A sense of purpose

Depression can be one of the most overlooked health conditions facing the elderly population. This is due to a number of reasons, but one of the largest is that it can be difficult for caregivers to recognize the symptoms. However, according to the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health, approximately 20 percent of the 65-and-older population have depression. This isn’t an issue without a solution, and there are a number of ways for seniors to alleviate depressive symptoms. One of the most effective is for them to find a sense of purpose during retirement.

A variety of causes
Like many health conditions, depression affects seniors for a number of different reasons. Some older adults may experience symptoms because of a loved one’s passing, while others’ may be the result of side effects from certain medications. Still, some seniors can feel depressed due to a lack of purpose – something they did not have to grapple with when they were in the workforce. Experts from PsychCentral noted that a recent study from MetLife found that it was this sense of purpose that was more important to older adults – even more than their money and health.

How to find it
Of course, simply recognizing the need for a greater purpose is only half the battle. However, there are many ways for seniors to add a sense of direction to their retirement living. Volunteering is one of the most popular routes for seniors. Not only does it provide older adults with something to look forward to each day, they are giving back to the community at the same time.

While volunteering is certainly a route worth taking, it is not the only one available to older adults. Seniors may also want to consider the benefits of socialization when it comes to reducing the risk of depression and other health issues. In fact, a study from the University of California, San Francisco found that older adults who reported feeling lonely were about 45 percent more likely to die over the course of the study compared to those who felt more meaningfully connected.

Retirement communities offer seniors many opportunities to find these connections, whether through exercise clubs or classes with like-minded individuals.