December focus: Seniors and depression

The winter holiday season is a time to celebrate, but as members of the health care industry, we also know that for many people the holidays are a time when depression can intensify or resurface.

While other home care providers may be handing out candy canes and wearing reindeer antlers from office to office, you’ll resonate more strongly with your referral sources if you convey an understanding of what many of their patients and families are experiencing this holiday season.

  • Customize a great newsletter about stress, depression and the holidays.  This newsletter speaks to seniors, educates on the benefits of home health or private duty services and is fully personalized to your agency. Be sure to distribute to all of your referral sources’ offices.
  • Roughly a quarter of people age 65 or older suffer from depression. More than half of doctor visits by the elderly involve complaints of emotional distress. Twenty percent of suicides in this country are committed by seniors, and older, white men commit suicide more often than other subsets of this group. According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, depression is one of the major causes of decline in the health-related quality of life for senior citizens. Distribute a brochure on seniors and mental illness and depression to physician waiting rooms and in senior centers throughout your service area.
  • Read a great article on seasonal depression from the Mental Health America. Print the article and use it to facilitate a discussion group at your local assisted living centers or independent living centers. Encourage the seniors there to open up and share their feelings of sadness during this time of year.
  • Have your agency host a webinar on recognizing the signs of depression in seniors. Check out Home Instead’s marketing initiative for seniors and depression. Use it as inspiration for your next marketing campaign.
  • Make an appointment with your local radio or television station and ask whether you can be interviewed for a health spot on depression and seniors. Contact your local newspaper and pitch an article or guest editorial on surviving the holiday blues. Try to make it a monthly feature in which you cover a variety of health topics that impact the senior community.