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Caring for a Loved One with Depression By: Jim Stinson, Director of Spiritual Life for United Methodist Homes The Reality of Aging In her mid-eighties, not given to morose thoughts and always life affirming, my mother startled me one day with her comment. She said, “I know more people up there than I do down here.” She gestured toward the sky as she said “up there” and toward the ground as she said “down here” making sure I got the point she wanted to make. Now while I could argue with her cosmology about the location of heaven, I could not argue with her observation. The fact was she had outlived most of her family of origin; and she had outlived most of her friends. Indeed her life had changed dramatically over the previous decade. Her friends were dying with increasing frequency, as were her children and their spouses. She was speaking to a reality of aging. If we live long enough we inevitably watch many of our loved ones and friends die. “Angry Old Ladies” and “Cranky Old Men” This fact can, and often does lead to depression, an often overlooked and under diagnosed illness, among the aging. When it is overlooked and under diagnosed we are often confronted with older adults who exhibit behaviors we would recognize more readily in younger people. We meet “angry old ladies,” “cranky old men,” older adults who “just sit home and do nothing,” mothers and fathers who “do nothing to help themselves,” and so on. When we deal with these people we discover how difficult it is to care for them. In fact we often tell ourselves “there is no talking to them, they just don’t want to be different,” and other self-protecting reasons not to try.