an old couple sitting on a bench

A Guide to Reducing Geriatric Depression

Life changes fast as one gets old. Diseases of old age, like Alzheimer’s or joint pain, start showing up. Friends grow old and pass away; children become established and move out. 

Declining health and social circle are among the primary reasons seniors are very prone to depression – around 28% of older adults, or more than 1 in 4 seniors, suffer from geriatric depression. 

If you think older individuals in your life are suffering from geriatric depression, you can help them in several ways. Let’s discuss a few:

1. Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing and reducing geriatric depression, supplementing professional interventions. For example, physical activity can boost mood and is suitable for cardiovascular health. 

Exercise releases endorphins and stimulates the growth of new brain cells. Regular physical activity also leads to deeper and more restful sleep, which is crucial for mood regulation.

Similarly, doing physical activity in a group provides you with an avenue for socialization, which can combat loneliness and isolation. 

It is also essential to have a good night’s sleep to combat geriatric depression. In the same way, a healthy diet containing nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and folate supports brain health and neurotransmitter production, elevating mood. 

Another lifestyle change to make is developing strong social connections. Encourage the elderly in your life to share activities and experiences with others to boost mood and offer a sense of belonging, combating loneliness and isolation.

Strong social connections also ease stress and anxiety, improving overall well-being. 

If an older adult lives with you, help them make these lifestyle changes, and If they live in a nursing home, ensure they are provided facilities to exercise, a healthy diet, and avenues for social connection. 

In case the person living in a nursing facility reports not having access to such necessities, take it as one of the nursing home neglect warning signs and prepare to investigate or make different arrangements for them. 

2. Professional Support 

Professional support plays a crucial role in effectively managing geriatric depression. 

Psychological therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and supportive therapy, can help seniors by identifying and changing negative thought patterns, improving communication and interpersonal relationships, and providing a safe space for expressing emotions. 

If therapy alone does not solve the problem, a specialized geriatric psychiatrist can suggest antidepressants and other medication to improve symptoms.  

3. Support From Loved Ones

While professional support is undoubtedly important, the best thing you can do personally is show them you are there. 

Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of geriatric depression and monitor your loved one for any changes in mood, appetite, or sleep patterns that concern you. If you try to talk to them about their depression, approach them with sensitivity and caution. 

Practice active listening when offering emotional support. Be fully present without distractions, listen patiently, and express empathy and understanding. Don’t dismiss their feelings as “just part of aging” or compare their situation to others. 

depressed senior - featured image


Depression in older adults is commonplace, and it is known as geriatric depression. Remember that it manifests differently from depression in adults. 

If your loved one is fighting geriatric depression, it is essential to be there for them. Encourage and help them make lifestyle changes like incorporating physical activity and eating a healthy diet, and get them professional support.

Your support and love can help them put the worst of geriatric depression behind them. 

Scroll to Top