Simple things

Life is NEVER simple! Sometimes a person becomes so discouraged they feel the need for an antidepressant to function at a higher level. They ask the doctor for help.

Sometimes the doctor prescribes an antidepressant that contains SSRI (Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors). At a recent medical conference*, it was reported that SSRIs have been found to "decrease Rapid Eye Movement (REMs) in elderly patients" and cause other sleep disorders. 

In the past doctors looked at other side effects of antidepressants, such as weight gain, but now they believe that for elderly patients it is important to consider the sleep disruptions caused. When the body is agitated during sleep, it can be a sign of neurodegeneration, which is associated with dementia.

The study led to the suggestion that doctors take a holistic care approach to helping the elderly when they are discouraged or depressed. 

Holistic approaches to encourage a patient include activities in these areas:

  • Physical self-care
  • Spiritual self-care
  • Mental/Emotional self-care
  • Lifestyle
  • People support

For your loved one in a retirement or nursing home, talk with the nurses and aides to find out if they are getting exercise that helps them to breathe and if they are getting the water they need. This varies from patient to patient.

Many suggestions for holistic solutions are made on this webpage, some which are not helpful to older people.

Keeping a room fresh with new pictures of family and flowers can help. Let's brainstorm together for ideas!

* The study was presented at the Institute of Psychiatric Services (IPS): The Mental Health Services 2016 Conference.