Dealing with a depressed family member, especially a beloved senior member of the family, can leave you feeling helpless. Depression is common in the elderly, but it can be difficult to determine if it’s just a periodic episode of the blues, crankiness related to pain or other discomfort, or something more chronic that needs to be treated.
“When I or the staff suspect someone is depressed, I normally go in to talk with the resident and give them and opportunity to vent their feelings and offer my support to find out what may be bothering them,” said Lisa Lloyd, Admissions and Social Services Director at Heritage Hall – Dillwyn. “If they are missing their family, I offer to write a letter, email or call the family. I offer counseling and notify the doctor of depressive symptoms just in case there needs to be a medication review.”
Josie Hawkins, Marketing and Admissions Director at Heritage Hall – Virginia Beach agrees. “We would meet with the resident to evaluate the nature of his/her depression, as well as document the issue and monitor the situation.” She added, “We would also offer positive thoughts to the patient each time we visit with them, but certainly consider referring them to more in-depth services if needed.”
Crystal Todd, Director of Marketing & Admissions, adds, “As a former social worker here at Heritage Hall, dealing with depressed patients is something that I did on almost a daily basis. It is common in a setting like this especially if coming into a nursing facility is a major change.”
Residents are asked on admission and on a quarterly and annual basis if they are depressed and how often they feel this way. This is asked during an assessment done by the social worker or MDS Coordinator. “If a resident does express that they are depressed, the first thing I would check is their med list to see if they are on any anti depressants,” adds Todd.
Many facilities, such as Heritage Hall – Leesburg have a geriatric psychiatrist on staff that can come into the building to see residents on a weekly to bi-weekly basis. Before this referral is made, both the resident and family member are asked if this is a service that they would like.
American Healthcare also has a psychologist on staff, Dr. Rodney Kibler. Dr. Kibler visits each facility on a monthly basis. The social worker will put a list of residents together for Dr. Kibler to see when he visits. Most of the residents just need someone to talk to and that is what Dr. Kibler is for. Dr. Rosecan, who is the geriatric psychiatrist works more on the clinical side and will change or add medications if necessary.
If your loved one is acting differently, consider this advice when visiting and speaking with them. If it’s a situation that’s not going away, it may be time to consider a physician’s intervention.