Seniors are more likely than any other age group to commit suicide, reports the National Institute of Health. Why is that? Chronic pain, lack of purpose or loneliness can contribute to the depression seniors feel. While professional intervention is essential for seniors who feel deeply depressed or suicidal, you can help your parents stay upbeat and positive when you encourage them to participate in dozens of depression-busting activities.
1. Go Outdoors
Physicians recommend that depressed individuals spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day because the sunshine boosts moods. Your parents benefit from the sun when they sit on a bench and people-watch, and they can also participate in a variety of outdoor activities.
- Join an outdoor birdwatching group and learn to identify the local birds.
- Start a small container garden on the windowsill, deck or common area.
- Meet friends for an outdoor picnic, game of shuffleboard or walk around the block.
2. Hang out With Friends
Laughing, chatting and enjoying life with friends can be one of the fastest ways to reduce depression. Your parents can prioritize friendship in their daily routine when they:
- Join community game nights at their assisted living center.
- Start a comedy club or put on a variety show with a group of friends.
- Go shopping for cheerful home décor, new books or clothing.
- Call or chat online with a family member or friend every day.
- Join and become active in a local civic group or church.
Acts of service ward off depression, provide personal satisfaction and remind your parents that they still have many good years left to live. With their life experiences and professional training, your parents can volunteer at a nearby school, library or charity and make a difference in the world.
4. Adopt a Pet
Animals brighten spirits with their companionship, so give your parents a cat, dog, hamster or bird to care for and love. If they can’t own a pet, encourage them to play with a community pet or volunteer at the local animal shelter.
Your parents may not run marathons like 101-year-old Fauja Singh, but regular exercise will diminish depression. They can walk, swim, golf or do yoga to boost serotonin levels and stay upbeat.
6. Enjoy Hobbies
With their hobbies, your parents create items that bring them pleasure, reinforce their purpose in life and reduce depression. Help your parents set up a hobby corner in their apartment, and stock it with knitting needles and yarn, paintbrushes and canvases, hammer and nails or whatever hobbies your parents enjoy.
Even if your parents can’t hold a tune, music lifts their spirits. Program their favorite songs onto an iPod or computer playlist, buy them a Sirius or other satellite music subscription or stock CDs for their stereo as you encourage your parents to use music as an anti-depressant.
Depression affects millions of seniors, but numerous activities lift your parents’ spirits and help them stay positive. Encourage your parents to fight depression by staying active.