5 ways to combat depression in seniors

Depression is one of the most common illnesses affecting Canadian citizens each year. Health Canada reported that the disease is more common in women than men, but it affects a significant portion of both populations, with 11 percent of men and 16 percent of women having depression at some point in their lives.

While depression is common among Canadian seniors, there are ways for older adults to fight back and help improve their mental state. From altering their diets to adopting a new hobby, seniors should consider these five ways to combat depression.

1. Going to social events for seniors
Socialization is one of the best ways to fight against the symptoms closely associated with depression, such as feelings of loneliness and isolation. Joining a club, organization or recreational sports group is a fun way for seniors to productively spend time with friends. Older adults could consider forming their own social gatherings around one unified theme, such as a book club with their friends they’ve made in retirement living, or a weekly TV night where seniors who watch the same television programs can enjoy the series together. These activities not only bolster seniors’ moods, but they can help seniors make friends as well.

2. Eat the right foods
Diet plays a significant role in people’s lives, no matter what their age. There are several foods with nutrients that have been scientifically proven to help improve the lives of those with depression. Foods rich with fiber, vitamins and positive health impacts are crucial to improving one’s mood, Dr. Shawn Talbott explained to Everyday Health. While junk foods, such as sweets and fattening products, may provide a temporary mental relief, seniors should instead seek proteins, vegetables and fruits that are replete with savory nutrients. Turkey, for example, features tryptophan, which helps improve the production of feel-good hormone, serotonin.

3. Reach out to support groups
Depression can affect the majority of the population, but seniors suffering from its effects should consider reaching out to their peers, whether they’re seeking the guidance of family members or looking for other people in the community going through a similar situation. The Vancouver Sun reported that several organizations in the Vancouver area have been connecting senior groups to discuss their feelings and find ways to help relieve their symptoms. One group allows seniors to convene each week to participate in arts and crafts, round table discussions and field-trips to local shops.

4. Participate in a physical activity
Exercising is one of the easiest ways to improve one’s mood. Participating in a physical activity, whether it’s by exercising alone or through a recreational sport, is a great way to boost the body’s endorphin production. The New York Times reported on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Participants were administered a combination of antidepressants and exercise requirements, some participating in aerobic activities while others walked during the day. They found that those who engaged in regular physical activity were much more likely to report elevated moods and reduced symptoms of depression. Seniors should consider taking advantage of the warmer weather by exercising outside, especially since the sun’s rays are even more likely to improve overall feelings of happiness.

5. Joining a retirement community
Some seniors may feel depressed because they do not have regular access to friends, or they live far from their family members. Joining a retirement village is a great way for older adults to become a part of a greater community. Retirement residences host a number of senior activities, programs and opportunities for older adults to have fun. Chartwell features a number of senior living options ideal for seniors who have a variety of needs. To find a retirement residence near you, click here.