The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 years or older are clinically depressed. While some may have experienced episodes of depression in the past, many seniors experience depression late in life. This New York Times Well Blog post combs over some of the causes for depression in seniors, how it sometimes looks, and the growing trend in seniors seeking therapy.
This post from New York Times’ The New Old Age blog was recently brought to me by a family caregiver. It is a great example of why Caregiver stress is not something to shrug off. Author Judith Graham writes about how the stress and emotional burdens of caregiving have a cumulative effect on the caregiver that is not unlike Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Step into my Shoes.
Validating the Older Person with Memory Loss
Thursday, May 17th 2012 from 8:00AM-10:00AM
Presented at San Clemente Villas by the Sea
660 Camino de Los Mares, San Clemente
A new Australian study coming from The Arts Health Institute looks at the impact of humor therapy on mood, agitation, behavioral disturbances and social engagement in dementia patients. The SMILE study spanned 36 Australian assisted living communities and found a 20 percent reduction in agitation – results equal to that of drug therapies. This study is slated for presentation at Australia’s National Dementia Research Forum this week.
The Arts Health Institute is part of The Dementia Collaborative Research Centers funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
The article, Letting Go of My Father, authored by Jonathan Rauch and originally published on April 2010 in The Atlantic, was recently presented by a member of one of AMI’s family caregiver support groups. She explained that this article gave her the words that she had been trying to find but unable to form. This voice by proxy seems not only the author’s intent, but also a request.He lays out his own journey, unprepared, into care giving for his sick 80 year old father. Mr. Rauch’s account zig-zags through the difficult processes that both providing care and accepting help demand, while it voices the isolation that family care givers often feel when they think their only choice is to go it alone.
I emerged from the whole experience not a little indignant. The medical infrastructure for elder care in America is good, very good. But the cultural infrastructure is all but nonexistent. How can it be that so many people like me are so completely unprepared for what is, after all, one of life’s near certainties?
Mr. Rauch estimates “millions of middle-aged Americans” need to be informed and supported but instead remain “invisible caregivers.” Rauch says the care giver’s silent problems are likely to require a cultural change; one he compellingly likens to Betty Fredan’s book, The Feminist Mystique, where “suddenly they realize they all share the same problem, the problem that has no name.”
. . . Well worth the read . . . Link to the article: Letting Go of My Father – The Atlantic.