Parents believe that whatever they do, it is always for the welfare of their kids. Obviously, it is understandable for them to think that way, as parenting is a job that nobody was ready for. Yet it does come – parenthood – for most of us, so we strive to be the best parents ever.
However, there are times when it is for our children that we reach out to a professional or parenting counselor, particularly when the matter at hand is difficult to be resolved by just mere words. Someone needs to walk us through the proper steps on how to manage these matters or someone who can interfere in order to lessen the worry and tension.
This article will focus on the things that parents like us can gain from consulting a counselor and getting into the sessions. Nowadays, it is no longer uncommon to employ someone who can listen to your concerns. Almost everybody reaches out to someone in scenarios where we can’t find possible solutions ourselves. And doing this doesn’t make us bad parents at all. In fact, those who are close to our hearts will eventually realize that it has done more good than harm.
Counseling Helps Your Child Change Positively.
Have you noticed your child’s rebellious behavior, one that leads him to bother others? Has he been skipping school lately? If you have, then you must know it’s vital that you ask an expert’s help.
You’ll know what’s going on at home. Also, expect counselors to want to know important information about your child. This way, both you and your child’s counselor can develop a plan to stop or at least pacify the specific behavior that he may be presenting.
It is also crucial that you know where your young loved one is coming from, the triggers driving him to do what he does. Once you are aware of all these, you are able to know how to make him recognize his bad behavior. Consulting a counselor also helps you identify extreme behavioral problems that are tied to mental health. Could your child be autistic or could he possibly have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? These are conditions that you wouldn’t detect yourself, but with a counselor, through observing during sessions, you would know earlier before things worsen.
Counseling Will Encourage You To Modify Your Behavior.
As human beings, we are not exempted from committing errors. Additionally, we also have a tendency to be blinded by our own behaviors. You could be thinking that your child has been behaving wrongly, when all this time, your own behavior has led your child to behave that way.
It is essential that there is someone you can talk to that can be objective and impartial. A trained counselor knows that he must be fair and look into all sides of the issue before making a recommendation. He is tasked to help you – to right your wrongs as a mom or dad, to encourage you to be better not only for your child but for yourself and the entire family as well. A counselor is not paid to sweet-talk you or give empty promises. He is not trained to take your side all the time. He is trained to study all potential consequences and make a wise and well-balanced decision after.
Counseling Brings You Closer To Your Young
If you have two or three older kids, then you know by now that the pre-teen and teenage years the messiest stages. In fact, you’ve gone through them, right? Don’t be surprised if your child attempts to keep you in the dark, particularly if you don’t share a closeness with him. And you may be tight with him, but it would still take a little time for him to let you know if something is wrong.
Because we are parents and we love our children deeply, we are so eager to be there for them always – for the good and bad in their lives. Perhaps your pre-teen has just been broken-hearted for the first time. Knock on his door and ask him how he is. Hear him out. Make sure that whatever happens, you are there for him.
A qualified and experienced counselor says the appropriate words and knows when to say them. He has vast knowledge from his years of study in his area of expertise and he will know how to help you handle even a simple problem like this.
Counseling Is The Best Resort When You Don’t Know What To Do.
As parents, we know that although we have experience and we know better than our kids, there are times when we just don’t have any idea what we should do, no matter how much we try. Should I ground my son for what he did or is it too much? Must I show him how much I love him by going over to his school and reprimand the classmate who bullied him?
Don’t worry. That is understandable sometimes. However, so that there will be no misconceptions or misunderstandings on how we act, we might as well seek the advice of professionals who are committed to helping others. To admit our faults is hard, but if we want to be better parents, we should accept that there are simply some matters, situations, or circumstances that we have no control of.
If you feel like your child is so far from you right now, or that he’s going through a phase and you want to help, reach out to a counselor today.
Kids grow and learn more when they establish loving, positive, robust relationships with their parents or guardians. These kinds of relationships help them discover the world – if it is safe or not, whether they’re protected or loved, who really cares for them, or what will happen if they laugh, cry, etc.
You can strengthen your parent-child relationships by:
Making an effort to spend time with them
Establishing a warm and comforting environment that encourages respect and trust.
Knowing your child’s whereabouts, thoughts, and feelings.
Positive and strong relationships between parents and children are based on quality time and effort. Your time with each other is how you’ll know more about one another’s thoughts, emotions, interests, and experiences. This assures kids that you love and appreciate them, which strengthens and improves your relationship.
You can spend time with your child in places where he finds interesting or enjoyable, like the park or zoo. You can even spend a few hours at home with each other, like talking alone with him, or if he’s a toddler, you can do the bathing every morning. These are moments where you can provide positive messages with hugs, kisses, smiles, and eye contact.
There may be moments in your life when it’s difficult to have sufficient time with your child daily. However, you can plan some personal time with your loved one, quality time that matters.
Respect And Trust
Respect and trust are fundamental to a constructive parent-child connection.
In the past, when your child was still a baby, building trust has since been important. Your infant will feel safe when he learns that he can trust you or his primary guardian to meet the infant’s needs. In addition, this sense of security and protection helps your child cultivate self-esteem. Eventually, respect and trust are two values that your child can carry with him as he grows older.
Here are some ways that you can instill respect and trust in your parent-child relationship.
Keep your promises so that your kid will learn to depend on what you say. For instance, if you tell him that you’ll attend his school activity, you must do your best to get there.
Be there when your child requires support, help, or comfort. This could be picking up your teen when he asks you to after a party or simply helping your toddler stand up from a fall. This encourages him to trust that you will be available when he needs you.
When your child gives you a different opinion, hear him out first without criticizing him or getting disappointed. This will show him that you will listen to his concerns or issues, whether complicated or simple.
Please find time to know your child and appreciate him for what and who he is. For example, if he is interested in baseball, encourage him to tell you all about it. Respecting your child’s feelings and interests pushes him to continue sharing experiences with you.
Create stringent but impartial family rules. They are concise statements that state how the members of your family should treat each other. These rules help your family, especially your kids, trust that your treatment is consistent and stable.
Let your parent-child relationship grow along with your child, and his interests and needs eventually change. For instance, your young might not want you to accompany him to the park when he’s with his friends, but he used to love it when you brought him there.
Knowing What’s Going On
Contemplating your child’s thoughts and whereabouts means that you are in the moment. In addition, it signifies how much you care about things that are important for him, which is the primary foundation for a strong parent-child relationship.
Some ideas on how to be in the moment include:
Accepting your child, let him be, and trying not to instruct him all the time. For example, if he wants to pretend and tell you a strange story, it is totally fine. You don’t need to teach him every time he says or does something that’s not so normal.
Hear him out and tune in to his real emotions. For instance, if your pre-teen is story-telling about his whereabouts during the entire day, it could mean that he likes his new teacher or that he’s just happy to talk to you about anything.
Reflect on your child’s personality and behavior. For example, if your child is staying in the kitchen but not really saying much, he could want someone to talk to you, or he wants you to comfort him. You could give him hugs and kisses. Let him help you cook and not talk about anything. He needs some TLC.
Providing your child with a chance to lead. Here are some examples:
Be supportive of your thoughts and opinions. For example, if your teen wants to create a meal plan for dinner, why not give him a chance?
When he states an opinion, use conversations by learning more about his emotions, even though they may not be the same as yours.
Do you remember kids saying that they cannot wait to go to college and be independent?
Yes, that happens even now, and I was one of those kids who would not let a day pass without telling my parents that. Whenever they would ask me to do my chores, I would say, “Ugh! When I’m in college, you cannot boss me around anymore.” Whenever they would tell me to do my homework, I would say, “When I’m in college, you won’t be breathing down my neck anymore.” And whenever I would not be allowed to go to a party, I would say, “You’ll see, when I’m in college, I can do whatever I want.”
If you think about it, children’s mindset shows that college is connotated with the word “independence.” It is as if you become untouchable when you become a college student as if no adult can tell you what to do. But the best part about it is that the parents are still somewhat obliged to give you everything you need because you are still a student. They may ask you to get a student loan or find a part-time job, but they will still cover a significant portion of your bills. Hence, you can party until you drop.
Being In College
I could vividly recall that I practically jumped out of the car the first time I set foot in my college. There was an immediate sense of belonging in my heart, even though the classes did not start yet, and I did not know anyone there. Once my parents were done helping me organize my stuff in the dormitory, I acted like a lunatic and ran around the campus.
Parties aside, I enjoyed being a college student. I took a degree in marketing and advertising, which meant that we always had events cooking up. The only downtimes that we had were during lectures. Still, other than that, we would be planning small festivals, concerts, seminars, and even product demos to build up our experiences as future marketers and advertisers.
College life would not be complete without joining a sorority or fraternity, of course. I was hesitant to join one during my freshman year because of the bad rep that such organizations had been getting over the years. But when a classmate asked me to join with her, I realized that my worries were unwarranted. In truth, during my second semester, I moved into the sorority house, thus making my college life more colorful.
Then, Graduation Came
I was in the 10th grade when the first Pitch Perfect movie came out. One memorable scene where Chloe, one of the main characters, mentioned that she kept putting off her graduation because she did not know what to do afterward. Back then, I wondered what’s the big idea about graduating. In my head, it was a part of life. When I graduated from elementary and middle school, I didn’t even cry or miss my friends or teachers. However, when I graduated from college, I understood Chloe’s dilemma because I experienced post-college depression.
It took years before I managed to get over my post-college depression. After six months, I somehow got used to looking at nowhere in the distance or spacing out during conversations. Thus, when I finally overcame it, I thought, “Wow, I survived!”
But The Fight Is Not Over Until It’s Over
Decades after that, I got diagnosed with geriatric depression. I was already 56 years old at the time; my dog just passed away. I felt lonely and sleepless, so I went to see a psychiatrist to get a prescription for sleeping pills. However, as I conversed with the mental health professional, she told me that she’s seeing signs of depression in me.
My initial reaction was, “That can’t be true. I already overcame depression in my 20s.”
The doctor explained gently that having depression back in the day made me more prone to depression later. I went home to mull things over and eventually realized that she might be right – I might genuinely have geriatric depression.
What is the Geriatric Depression Scale used for?
The geriatric depression scale (GDS) has been used to assess how depressed an old age individual is. The scale was created in the early 80s by J.A. Yesavage and company.
Keep in mind that GDS is not the only basis that psychiatrists and psychologists depend on before they diagnose a senior with depression. It is part of an ensemble of self-report questionnaires that they use for this purpose.
How do you score the Geriatric Depression Scale?
One important thing to understand is that the geriatric depression scale consists of yes-or-no questions. As for the questions, they are meant to describe the symptoms of depression that people often feel. Because of that, if the questionnaire says, “Are you satisfied with where you are in your life?” and the patient answers no, that is one point.
Once the results arrive, and it shows that you have gotten at least five points in the short form of GDS or at least 10 points in the long form of GDS, the psychiatrist or psychologist may ask you to come back follow-up checkup. Those numbers do not mean that you have depression, but you have still touched the baseline, so further examination is important.
What is the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form?
The short form of geriatric depression scale cuts down the 30 complete questions to a total of 15. Based on the sample questionnaires that we have gotten ahold of, the patients need to indicate if they feel bored, happy, helpless, in good spirits, lonesome, energetic, and other emotions.
Saying yes to many positives does not always indicate that a person is free from depression. If you say no to at least five of them, it is not set in stone still, but it suggests that you most likely have depression. In that case, you need to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional for further evaluation.
Is the Geriatric Depression Scale a reliable screening tool?
Yes, the geriatric depression scale (GDS) has consistently been recognized as a reliable screening tool for depression in adults. It primarily hinges on the fact that it is a straightforward set of questions that are answerable by yes or no. It entails a lower margin of error, considering the patients will not have much to think about as they fill-up the form.
What is it about the GDS that indicates it is specific to depression?
A specific indication that the geriatric depression scale is specific to depression (aside from the disorder’s name in the title, of course) is the way the questions have been phrased in the questionnaire. To reiterate, there may be a few other self-report questionnaires that a mental health professional can employ pre-diagnosis. However, GDS’s reliability is impeccable; that’s why they continue to use it.
What is the GDS test?
The GDS test is a written form of examination that mental health professionals use to screen depression among their patients. The typical structure of the GDS questionnaire consists of 30 questions that aim to gauge your absolute emotions. It is not too complicated to use either, considering you only have to indicate yes or no on the paper. This can be especially helpful for much older patients.
What does GDS stand for?
GDS is the acronym for geriatric depression scale, a screening test that psychologists and psychiatrists use to determine if their patients have depression. J.A. Yesavage created the long-form in 1982 with some colleagues, while the short form was in 1986.
What is the Cornell Depression Scale?
The Cornell Depression Scale is another self-report examination for geriatric patients who have already been diagnosed with dementia beforehand. The test does not usually take more than 20 minutes under the same certified nursing assistant (CNA).
Based on the copy of the Cornell Depression Scale that we found online, it consists of 19 questions, which are to be answered by 0, 1, or 2. The highest number indicates that the patient experiences what’s mentioned on the questionnaire severely, while the lowest number means that they may not experience it at all. If the patient’s answer is challenging to evaluate, the CNA needs to write down the letter “a.”
If it turns out that the patient has scored 12 out of 19 or more, they most likely have depression.
What is the global deterioration scale?
The Global Deterioration Scale, which also uses “GDS” as an acronym, refers to the seven stages of cognitive dysfunction that people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia may exhibit. This scale is technically more for the caregivers than the patients, considering the former need guidance on how to handle the latter better.
When you go from stages 1-3, it means that the patient may only be slightly forgetful. When they reach stage 5, though, it means that they can no longer live on their own.
What are the seven stages of dementia?
Stage 1: You will see no signs of dementia at all.
Stage 2: You may experience forgetfulness, but you may charge it to aging.
Stage 3: Your forgetfulness may become more prominent, as well as speech and performance difficulties.
Stage 4: This is the early onset of dementia. During this stage, the doctor may be able to diagnose you.
Stage 5: The symptoms may have lasted for at least four years and gotten so severe that you require nursing assistance.
Stage 6: This is when you may start forgetting your family and friends.
Stage 7: At this terminal stage, you may not be able to do anything – not even chew or lift a finger, thus making you entirely dependent on a caregiver.
What is the Dementia Rating Scale?
The Dementia Rating Scale (DRS) is a famous screening tool for dementia that consists of five subscales (i.e., Attention, Conceptualization, Construction, Initiation/Perseveration (I/P), and Memory).
What is the most useful screening test for dementia?
The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is one of the most helpful screening tests for dementia (and Alzheimer’s disease). The caregiver may refer to a set of questionnaires and ask mundane questions to the patients regarding the date or location, for instance, or make them repeat sentences or identify objects.
How quickly does dementia progress?
The progression of dementia mostly depends on the individual. Sometimes, it may happen so fast that the patient and their loved ones may not prepare for it. Other times, it takes years before the symptoms manifest.
How is the clinical dementia rating scale scored?
The clinic dementia rating (CDR) scale is scored by assessing six different areas one by one. The healthcare professional would use a 0-5-point scale, with the lowest number indicating the patient’s mildest effect. After that, they will tabulate all the scores and assess how the person is doing overall.
I still have a lot to be thankful for despite dealing with depression for most of my life. I’m grateful for my family, who never left my side during my darkest hours. I’m thankful to the counselors and psychologists who continued to guide me towards the right path. Most of all, I’m grateful to God for letting me get back on my feet whenever I fall.
The joy in knowing that you are about to become a parent is beyond compare. Certainly, there is overwhelming excitement, especially for mothers, upon knowing that you are pregnant with your child.
While there is nothing quite like the feeling of finally becoming a parent, the journey can be quite a challenge.
Becoming pregnant and going through the different bodily and hormonal changes can take a toll on a mom’s life. Added to that is the ongoing health crisis; the worries can even double for the soon-to-be mom.
But knowing how to mentalize can help to deal with times when you’re more likely to experience unstable mood swings like pregnancy.
During the pandemic, keeping our mental health in check has been a struggle, more so for pregnant women. So it is crucial to keep stressors at bay to keep healthy for two.
One of the ways to reduce anxiety and stress during pregnancy in the pandemic can be through mentalization. Mentalization is the ability to understand your mental state and its effects on overt behavior. It takes a degree of self-awareness to mentalize.
Conceptually similar to metacognition, mentalization is “thinking about thinking.” Since it requires self-awareness of underlying feelings and thoughts and their consequences, intense emotions weaken mentalization.
Aside from pregnant women, those with borderline personality disorder(BPD) can also benefit from this. BPD is a mental disorder that is marked by the instability of moods, relationships, and self-concept.
People with it often succumb to taking impulsive actions due to intense emotions. Other unpleasant symptoms of BPD also include the fear of abandonment and paranoia.
Because of the sudden shifts this mental illness causes, it is crucial to raise your self-awareness to prevent unwanted consequences. Paying attention to your mental state and having foresight can help reduce the risk of taking thoughtless actions.
Mentalization-based therapy is a good starting point for people who want to learn how to mentalize and be more aware of themselves. In times of uncertainty, it is helpful to feel more in control by having more awareness within ourselves.
We have compiled some frequently asked questions on the topic for more information on how mentalization-based therapy works.
How does Mentalization-based therapy work?
Mentalization-based therapy or MBT helps people with borderline personality disorder and other mental health problems increase their mentalization ability. Therapists use different techniques in this evidence-based treatment to help individuals explore their mental states, thoughts, and feelings, and others.
This therapy results in increased mentalization to better understand the self and regulate emotions and thoughts.
What does Mentalization mean?
Mentalization is a process of understanding ourselves and others’ mental states and emotions. This term also refers to your capacity to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings and others’ as well.
Why is Mentalization important?
Mentalization is essential because it helps you have a better sense of yourself and your identity. Increased mentalization allows you to have a better understanding of yourself and other people’s thoughts and emotions. It will also help you regulate and rationalize your mental states.
What is the STEPPS program?
The STEPPS or System Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving program is a research-based treatment for borderline personality disorder individuals.
It is a 22-week therapy wherein individuals meet for two-hour sessions to learn how to change their behaviors and manage their feelings. This program is done in groups.
What does psychodynamic therapy focus on?
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the unconscious psychological processes of your emotions. These are considered as the roots of your emotional suffering and may include your wishes and fears.
What is Mentalization Fonagy?
Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman coined the term mentalization to refer to your ability to understand and reflect upon yours and others’ mental states. They expanded the idea of the attachment theory and further developed it to result in better emotional regulation.
What is reflective functioning?
Reflective functioning is a term that refers to your capacity to understand your and others’ mental states, which includes your feelings, thoughts, and desires.
What is schema therapy used for?
Schema therapy is a useful treatment for borderline personality disorder. With the therapist’s help, the individual with this mental health problem will understand their maladaptive schemas.
These refer to the unhelpful patterns that develop from unmet childhood emotional needs.
What is the difference between the theory of mind and Mentalization?
The main difference between the theory of mind and mentalization is the mental state it focuses on. The former focuses on epistemic states like beliefs and intentions.
In contrast, the latter focuses on affective states, which concern emotions and desires. But both concepts help individuals in better understanding themselves and others.
What is MBT?
MBT or mentalization-based therapy is a research-based treatment used to help individuals with borderline personality disorder.
This therapy involves improving your mentalization to understand better and identify your and others’ mental states and regulate your own thoughts and emotions better. The techniques used during this therapy will vary from patient to patient and therapist to therapist.
What is epistemic trust?
The epistemic trust also referred to as ET, is a person’s capacity to trust new information and consider it relevant to integrate into their lives.
This concept is regarded as a key target in treating individuals with a borderline personality disorder. It allows them to accept new information about how to improve their mentalization.
What is the best mood stabilizer for a borderline personality disorder?
The drug that has been used for quite a long time is Lithobid or lithium carbonate. This mood stabilizer helps with this mental condition’s basic psychopathological features, including anger and self-harming behavior.
What triggers a person with a borderline personality disorder?
The two main triggers for a person with borderline personality disorder are relationship and cognitive triggers. People with this psychological condition have issues with abandonment. So they may experience intense fear and anger when they encounter rejection and criticism.
Sometimes, the triggers come from sudden thoughts of traumatic events or loss, but some people are also triggered by memories of happy times.
What is the goal of TeamSTEPPS?
TeamSTEPPS aims to provide optimal patient care by improving the skills of health care practitioners. This evidence-based set of tools integrates teamwork behaviors to better communication among healthcare workers, which may vary depending on the setting or situation.
We all tend to think about thinking at times, and often, we are unaware of it. For example, people are likely to mentalize when they’re in love.
People in love often take time to contemplate their feelings and ask themselves questions like “Is this just an infatuation?” and, “What do I feel when I’m with this person?”
But for people with mental illness, knowing how to reign in thoughts is imperative to have a better quality of life. People who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses can reap the benefits of MBT. This type of therapy helps with knowing how to take a step back from emotional encounters and thoughts.
Mentalization-based therapy aims to recalibrate thoughts and improve your way of thinking. It can help people take control of their thoughts and be more adaptable to life’s stressors.
Contrary to popular belief, going to therapy and seeking help isn’t just for people with mental illnesses. It can also help those who want to keep their minds healthy.
Whether you are going through a difficult phase in your life like pregnancy, suffering through BPD, or merely improving yourself, mentalization-based therapy can certainly help you.
As you get older, so does your parents. Thus, it is pretty much obvious that when they no longer can do things the way they used to, you take charge. You take care of them like how they took care of you when you were just a vulnerable child. Of course, you understand the responsibility of the moment. You have to be there for them to ensure that they live their remaining lives with quality, happiness, and fulfillment. However, you know it is not an easy process. There are things that your parents do that somehow give you stress, anxiety, agitation, exhaustion, and depression. Here are some of those.
They Won’t Listen – Often, when you take care of your old folks, you somehow notice their unreasonable attitude towards almost everything. They grew stubborn because they think they still have that drive to take matters on their own. They won’t listen to you because they believe to be more capable of doing things better since they are old and more mature. That particular obduracy from your parents can make you feel incapable. At some point, it stresses you because all you want to do is take care of them, but they are not cooperative enough. It either makes you insist on what you think is right or gives in to their demands.
They Won’t Care – Older adults tend to become more adventurous and risk-takers overtime. That is because they see themselves living in a world full of deadlines and limitations. With that ideology, they try to make the most out of their lives. That is even if their choices could end up causing them physical, emotional, and mental harm. For most adults like your parents, the relaxation of life starts when the restrictions pile up. Ironically, everyone thinks that nothing is more satisfying than doing the things they are not supposed to. They won’t care even if their daredevil acts cause people around them stress and anxiety.
They Emotionally Exhaust You – Taking care of your old folks is your responsibility. However, it is entirely understandable to feel a little bit emotionally exhausted when dealing with your parents. That is because sometimes you can’t just make them appreciate and understand your efforts for them. There will be those moments that your parent won’t cooperate and would go against you. They will become more of an enemy rather than a friend. Sometime, they won’t bother to ask if you are okay or if you need anything. Sadly, they will make you feel emotionally exhausted. That even if you talk them out about your good intentions, you will get rejected.
When taking care of your parents, you need to understand that things are sometimes out of your control. Your parents have their outlook on life that often differs from yours. Thus, forcing them to do something won’t help you even if you are only doing it for their comfortability and safety’s sake. With that problem at hand, you need to ensure that your emotional and mental health is intact. That way, you can deliver the best parental care that your old folks need.
Tips In Managing Stress In Parental Care
Make Time For Yourself – The best way you can manage stress from parental care is to make time for yourself. Do not let the overflowing responsibilities take over your life. It will help if you secure your health and wellness too. That way, when you are physically, emotionally, and mentally stable, you deal with stressors more significantly. Choose wellness over anything else. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, hydrate your body, and practice meditation if you have time.
Do Things One At A Time – Of course, you have to deal with many responsibilities for your parents and your personal needs. That is why you must manage your time accordingly and do things one at a time. Never let yourself get overwhelmed with all the things you need to accomplish because it is entirely okay to miss some of those.
Use Your Support System – Understandably, you won’t easily pull yourself out of the mental and emotional strain you may experience from taking care of your old folks. But the best you can do to stay focused is to use your support system. Talk to your friends, relatives, and partner, about your feelings, and share your thoughts. That way, you won’t get trapped with the idea that you are the only person in the world who is experiencing overall exhaustion.
Seek Professional Help – It is not always that you can do everything you have to do. Sometimes, things related to parental care can get a little messed up. It can drag your overall health down. When that happens, make sure that you seek professional advice. Guarantee yourself to have a better functioning physical, mental, and emotional health. Because for what it’s worth, you will need each of those aspects to deliver the best parental care to your old folks.
Older adults’ mental illnesses, particularly depression, are often mistaken as a typical sign of aging. With that kind of mentality, the family or caregiver sometimes experience issues, such as determining whether the elderly need psychological help or not. Mental health problems among the elderly hide in plain sight, but that does not mean those conditions are not treatable. In that case, it is necessary that the family or caregivers educate themselves about the possibility of mental illness development among older adults.
What Depression Looks Like In An Old Adult’s Perspective?
For some reason, it has been quite easy to determine if an individual is depressed. He or she can display signs such as isolation, loneliness, sadness, and anything related to emotional features and low energy levels. But for the elderly, the symptoms of depression can come quite differently. Yes, it will follow the same diagnostic criteria where experts can conclude major depressive disorder. However, the condition may show elderly behaviors and responses that are entirely different from what people usually know.
Elderly depression can somehow disregard the idea of isolation. However, if there is a chance of getting rid of social interaction, it becomes a top choice. Whether there are a lot or few people around the elderly, they don’t entirely feel anything. It is as if the elderly are not anymore interested in life and do not care about everything about the world anymore. Sometimes family and caregivers view the elderly as calm and peaceful individuals because of the less concern they show toward personal and social issues. But the truth is that apathy is a result of a mental condition that the elderly are unnoticingly suffering from.
In most instances, when someone asks the elderly what they think, they can answer directly. They pretty much seemed to understand what they want. That makes the family and caregiver believe that there is no problem because of the older adults’ confidence. But the truth is when someone asks the elderly how they feel, you will get an “I don’t know.” That is because they often get confused about their mental and emotional state. Usually, the elderly do not realize how things around them are vastly changing.
Why Most Elderly Do Not Try And Seek Help?
Depression in the elderly is very complicated. It flies under the radar because older adults do not talk about it. Usually, they get very stubborn that they believe there is nothing wrong with them emotionally and mentally. They are the least demographic to admit that they are depressed. For these old individuals, mental illness represents weakness and a character flaw and is not a medical diagnosis. Thus, it does not deserve even the slightest attention. These elderly do not have the insight to realize and acknowledge that they need psychological help. With that approach, it becomes hard for the family, loved ones, and caregivers to take charge.
But on another note, older individuals sometimes do not seek help because they do not want to. Somehow, it all comes down to personal preferences. The majority of the elderly community are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted already in their previous live endeavor that they do not wish to engage in any active and fun lifestyle. But then again, it all depends on the individuals. Some older adults spend the rest of their lives doing the things they once thought never could, while others prefer to sit peacefully around the couch.
What’s The Role Of Support?
Support from other people plays a critical role in helping the elderly recover from any mental health problem, particularly depression. They are the ones that motivate and encourage the vulnerable elderly to live the rest of their lives doing things that make them happy. These people must provide them with assistance with personal care to help them retain their independence. These supporters have the moral obligation to ensure that the elderly do not experience any physical, psychological, and emotional harm. These people are also responsible for administering medications that most elderly require. They provide practical support as well, where they assist the elderly in the household task and personal care. They focus on improving the old adult’s quality of life.
To sum up, it is best to say that depression in the elderly is not part of aging. It is a mental condition that affects everyone, regardless of age. Therefore, it is essential that the support system of old adults understand their need for extra attention. The family, loved ones, and caregivers need to value the old adults’ needs and concerns to ensure their good health. People should significantly become aware of the elderly needs so that they can live without anxiety and worries. So to support the elderly, please improve awareness regarding the changing behavioral patterns of old adults.
With the COVID-19 pandemic happening today, longer are the days when we are stuck at home and called to navigate a new normal. A time like this could trigger stress and anxiety to anyone as we all change the way we spend our days, mostly just stuck at home.
For families caring for senior parents, this could be challenging when it comes to maintaining their overall well-being. Since senior citizens have a higher risk of getting infected, we must care for them and find ways to keep them healthy and active. Here are some activities senior parents can do at home.
Encourage your senior parents to move as much as they could because it is beneficial to their health. Despite age and mobility issues, getting the body moving for blood circulation, endorphins, and firm muscles and joints is essential.
Seated exercises and yoga for seniors are some forms of low impact exercises that may be suitable. Help them get into a routine of exercising by exercising together or looking up online workout videos that they can follow.
Meditation brings about focus, relaxation, and awareness. This activity, as simple as it may seem, can boost mental wellness, especially in these trying times that affect how they feel and think. Several guided meditation applications are beginner-friendly, and a simple breathing exercise can also be a start to feeling more mindful and calm.
Connecting With Loved Ones
With the help of technology and social media, catching up with loved ones is possible. Setting up video calls with loved ones and friends can keep senior parents busy and make them feel treasured through the time spent with them. Through video calls, senior parents can gain a sense of connection despite the physical distance.
Allow senior parents to reminisce with simple life story exercises over a meal or during some downtime. Ask questions about their childhood, their unforgettable memories growing up, or things they have learned along the way.
Ask each family member to come up with a question and let the conversation flow. Doing this activity enhances their memory and also gives them an avenue to reflect and express themselves.
Revisiting old pictures can also be a fun activity for them to tell stories about their life. Kids at home or could also join in this activity to strengthen bonds.
Take it one step further by organizing photo albums or scrapbooking to keep themselves busy and creative. Through this, senior parents could gain a sense of fulfillment and contentment, feel positive emotions, and relieve stress.
Reading boosts cognitive health, maintains concentration, and provides opportunities to connect. There’s a various range of reading materials that your senior parent may find interesting such as lifestyle magazines, daily biblical readings, and bibliographies.
Meanwhile, audiobooks and podcasts can be fun alternatives to reading as well, especially if there are health concerns like visual impairment.
Dig into old cooking books or try out a new recipe. Cooking is a great way to allow senior parents to participate in daily house activities or chores. This activity can also be a way to bond with family members and learn from each other.
Perhaps assign them to cook one meal weekly or ask them to teach other family members their specialty recipes. The whole process of preparing and sharing a meal can also establish good relationships at home.
Gardening is another way to help senior parents increase their mobility and flexibility while at home. It also allows them to relax as they connect with nature. Moreover, it could give a sense of responsibility and purpose as they care for plants. This activity helps stimulate their brain and body, and it is easy to do with materials that are readily available at home.
Listening To Music
Senior parents can find enjoyment in listening, dancing, and singing to their favorite music. Allow them to share with family members the music they enjoyed growing up.
Research also shows that music helps stimulates the brain and keeps us healthy. Platforms such as YouTube and Spotify can help you search for music and instantly travel to the past.
Caring For Senior Parents During The Pandemic
Now is the time to be creative and resourceful in providing activities for senior parents, given the limitations. According to Dr. Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA, “Our senior patients need additional measures of care and protection, and COVID-19 only exacerbates those needs.”
So we must prioritize taking care of senior parents during these uncertain times that can strike vulnerability in them. The last thing we want is for them to feel stressed or for their present health conditions to worsen if they have any.
The 2018 Pain Management Event featured excellent presentations and workshops from experts in the field of pain management. The latest topics were deliberated thoroughly through small interactive case discussions. Nurses, doctors, and other members of the healthcare team were there to share and exchange insights and ideas on how to taper the use of opioids in chronic pain, new treatments for migraine, and legal concerns in pain management. All healthcare teams agreed that the best way to achieve their goals was to work together in keeping down the epidemic of insufficient and often dangerous pain management. Pain relief without the use of opioids is their utmost goal. Is it possible? Apparently, it is.
Below is a list of non-opioid medication options that offer effective pain relief:
Antidepressants. There is pain relief in the affected part of your body, but the sensation of pain is there because the brain says it is, so does the anxiety and depression. Physical pain is sometimes a symptom of depression. Thus, taking antidepressants even if you are not depressed may often eliminate or lessen the physical pain.
Over-the-counter Medications. NSAIDs like naproxen and ibuprofen decreases inflammation that aggravates the pain. Some people use Tylenol, acetaminophen, to help with their pain conditions, although it doesn’t reduce inflammation. So doctors often recommend that it be combined with acetaminophen to reap the best effects of both medications. The key is using the lowest dosage at the shortest possible duration, as prolonged use may cause heart problems, liver damage, and other complications.
Local Anesthetics. Using various topical solutions, gels, creams, and patches can help reduce pain. An example of a topical anesthetic is lidocaine, a numbing agent.
Other Medications. Studies suggest that some medications may help in pain management. Doctors usually prescribe naltrexone to taper the use of opioids and relieve pain in some patients, although in minimal doses. Ketamine has also been experimented and proven to calm the pain, but more research is necessary as this is often used as a horse tranquilizer.
The threat of COVID-19 demands prompt and effective action from everyone. With strict social distancing measures, many people continue to suffer from the disruption of ordinary life.
Senior citizens are at even higher risk, especially as the novel coronavirus infection leads to higher mortality rates for older people. Hence, families should know how to protect their seniors’ health and well-being despite all the uncertainty surrounding them right now.
Know The Situation
Understanding the capabilities of COVID-19, especially for the elderly, is key to formulating strategies to protect them from the illness.
COVID-19 causes flu-like symptoms, but it is several times more fatal than the common flu. Many infections progress to pneumonia, which is when fluid accumulation happens in the lungs. When this condition occurs, people require admission to a hospital. Even with intensive care, significant numbers of people who develop pneumonia eventually succumb to the coronavirus illness.
A particular characteristic that makes COVID-19 dangerous is that it targets older people. Senior parents generally have weaker immune systems than the rest of the population. Many senior citizens also have pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes. These factors make them more likely to catch the disease and more likely to progress to severe illness.
COVID-19 is infectious. Respiratory droplets that sick people release from coughing and sneezing can travel several feet and easily infect others. The illness has an incubation period that can last for two weeks, and some people fail to develop any symptoms despite being infectious. Hence, people can readily transmit the coronavirus without realizing that anything is wrong.
Given that the elderly are at considerable risk, you should take steps to isolate them from any potential sources of the virus. Social distancing is an effective way to suppress transmission. Everyone in the house, including the non-elderly, should refrain from unnecessary exposure with other people. Be sure to delegate necessary tasks, such as grocery shopping, to younger people in the household.
Even if seniors are not directly exposed, they can still catch the infection if someone else in the house gets sick. Hence, everyone should practice good hygiene habits. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Wear good-fitting masks, especially when going outside.
Avoid accommodating visitors into your home. Even family members should minimize unnecessary contact with senior members of the household. The elderly need to self-isolate even at home. According to Dr. Samir Sinha, MD, “their greatest risk is when people come to visit them.”
To reduce the need to go outside, make plans in advance. Maintain an inventory of necessary items such as food and drinks. Buy in larger quantities whenever you go out so that you can reduce the frequency of trips.
If senior members of your family require maintenance medication, prioritize procurement for these items.
Maintain a small but significant inventory, since drugstore closures and other events can make it impossible to buy medicines for days at a time. Check drugs for quality and dispose of those that are already beyond their expiration date. Avoid hoarding; this action makes it harder for everyone else to get what they need, and it increases the risk of medication wastage.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Isolation is not an excuse to forgo healthy habits. In particular, senior citizens will be at higher risk if they stop eating healthily and exercising. Regular physical activity and appropriate diets are necessary to keep their immune systems healthy, which will help protect older people from the coronavirus.
It can be challenging to be physically active while stuck indoors, but it’s not impossible. Consider dances or even strenuous household chores.
Just be mindful that senior parents may not be able to complete some movements, especially if they have orthopedic problems. Keep an eye on them to avoid the risk of injury. If your elderly family members sustain an injury, you might have a hard time finding a healthcare center that can accommodate them.
Don’t Forget Social Interaction
Social distancing doesn’t mean that grandparents have to go through the day alone. Social interaction is a dominant contributor to mental health, especially during pandemics. In particular, technology can allow anyone to remain in touch with relatives and friends.
Make sure to devote some time to help seniors master how to use tools like messaging apps and video chat software. It can take some time, especially since older people are not digital natives, but most people eventually become proficient with technology.
It’s tough, but social distancing measures demand great sacrifices. However, these methods are here to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19. More than ever, senior citizens need love and support during these difficult times, so be there for them.
The 2017 Senior Care Conference was a collaborative event sponsored by post-acute care associations, senior care, and skilled nursing facilities. The event was graced by a seasoned keynote speaker who believed that there was and will always be hope for a great future in the United States, including the seniors and their retirement years. The elderly are among America’s significant populations that also need attention, especially since most of them will live in senior living facilities. But for seniors who want to live in their homes, there was also a discussion about evaluating their needs in the home, some of which will be reviewed here.
Keeping Our Seniors Safe At Home
It is quite understandable why some seniors still prefer to live in their own homes, even as they move further into old age. A home is one’s solace where we are comfortable, relaxed, and at peace. But for the elderly, they must be provided with additional assistance within the premises of her home. Eventually, however, as they grow much older, living alone in their homes may no longer be possible for them.
The primary variable that needs to be evaluated is the home layout and condition.
Meals. Assess if the senior is still capable of cooking or eating healthy food.
Driving. Know if he still drives or if he has someone reliable to call and drive for him when he needs to buy something or go somewhere.
Risk of falls. Check the major spaces in his home, like the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. Check for hazards and make sure that these hazards are eliminated to keep them safe.
Mental capacity. Ask him simple to complex questions and evaluate if he is answering with sense. Evaluating cognitive function is very important.
Emergency planning. Ensure that the senior knows how to call for help and has a list of emergency numbers that he can call. Also, it would be better if there is someone he can call in emergency cases.