Editor's note: This is the second in a series of columns by Rhonda Everett of the Senior Center of Finney County on the topic of depression in older adults.
Continuing the discussion on senior depression from the last Senior Showcase, recognizing the signs and symptoms, we will continue with self-help tips.
Self-help tip 1: Find ways to stay engaged
If you’re depressed, you may not want to do anything or see anybody. But isolation and disconnection only make depression worse. The more engaged you are — socially, mentally and physically — the better you’ll feel.
Seek out face-to-face connection
On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. That’s why support matters — so make an effort to connect to others and limit the time you’re alone. If you can’t get out to socialize, invite loved ones to visit you, or keep in touch over the phone or email.
But digital communication isn’t a replacement for face-to-face contact. Do your best to see people in person on a daily basis. Your mood will thank you! And remember, it’s never too late to build new friendships. Start by joining a senior center, a book club or another group of people with similar interests.
Ways to feel connected and engaged
To overcome depression — and stop it coming back — it’s important to continue to feel engaged and enjoy a strong purpose in life. As we age, life changes and we lose things that previously occupied our time and gave our life meaning. You may retire, for example, or your children may leave home or friends may move away. But there are still plenty of ways you can find new meaning in life and continue to feel connected and engaged.
Get out into the world. Try not to stay cooped up at home all day. Go to the park, take a trip to the hairdresser, have lunch with a friend, visit a museum, or go to a concert or a play.
Volunteer your time. Helping others is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself and expand your social network.
Join a depression support group. Being with others facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation. It can also be inspiring to hear how others cope with depression.
Take care of a pet. A pet can keep you company, and walking a dog, for example, can be good exercise for you and a great way to meet people. Dog owners love to chat while their pets play together.
Learn a new skill. Pick something that you’ve always wanted to learn, or that sparks your imagination and creativity — a musical instrument, a foreign language, or a new game or sport, for example. Take a class or join a club to meet like-minded people.
Create opportunities to laugh. Laughter provides a mood boost, so swap humorous stories and jokes with your loved ones, watch a comedy or read a funny book.
Rhonda Everett is the bookkeeper for the Senior Center of Finney County.