Coping with the Losses that Come with Aging

Posted on April 18, 2017

Photo: flickr

While aging is a process that all of us are undergoing, every day of our lives, we usually refer to old age when we talk about aging. Getting older involves a lot of losses; perhaps the most obvious ones would be the loss of your parents, your spouse and other family members. The more physical losses include the loss of your hair, the fresh healthy glow of your cheeks and skin, the signs of youth. You may lose your sense of hearing or eyesight, mobility and even your memory. It is thus unsurprising that aging and depression go hand in hand. However, when does “old age” actually start? Due to advances in science and medicine, our life expectancy has increased in length. Many diseases that used to be acute are now chronic. We age throughout our lives, but perhaps we only pay attention to the aging process when these losses start piling up somewhere in our 60s and 70s.

It is important to tell the difference between sadness and depression, for it might come across as rude for us to impose ourselves on others when they are grieving, for example. While it is perfectly natural for a sense of loss to be tied to feelings of sadness or grief, some of us experience an unceasing, spreading sense of hopelessness in their lives; this is when sadness becomes depression. They might no longer find joy in the things that used to make them happy. They might find it difficult to fall asleep or to eat, and even isolate themselves, refusing to engage in any activities that might make them feel better. While it is not uncommon for us to identify with one or two of these indicators when we are feeling down, the problem arises when we, or someone we know, can identify with several. These become signs of depression when they last for at least several months and when they occur simultaneously.

When a loved one is depressed, you can attempt to seek help for him or her through professional therapists, counselling services or support groups, but it is common for them to resist the help that you are trying to offer. Since hopelessness is a symptom of depression, those who are depressed may be unwilling to accept or seek help, since they believe that they cannot be helped. Some might even become angered when offered help or medication, because they think that we do not understand their plight. Such situations may compound the isolation that the depressed often subject themselves to, since their loved ones may become frustrated with their negative responses to help, perhaps even halting their efforts to try to connect with them.

To combat this, it is perhaps helpful to get a third party who is not directly related to or close to the depressed person to talk to him or her. This person could be a doctor or a trusted adult, for example. Joining forces with others and staging a combined intervention might seem overwhelming, but it could help the depressed person to recognise the severity of the issue and to accept that you and your loved ones all want him or her to get better. When someone refuses help, do not detach yourself from him or her. Keep on trying. Show them that you care.

Category(s):Aging & Geriatric Issues, Depression

Source material from Psychology Today

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