How To Protect Against Geriatric Depression

by Eric Corum

I recently read an excellent blog post from the Parenting Our Parents organization about geriatric depression.  Shortly after reading that I ran across a new study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society that concluded:

“Frequency of in-person social contact with friends and family independently predicts risk of subsequent depression in older adults.”

The study found that in-person, face-to-face, contact is much better at reducing the likelihood for depression in older adults than other types of social interactions such as telephone calls or written correspondence.  This is yet another reminder that we human beings are social beings.  Our mental state simply doesn’t do well when we become socially isolated.
The frail and elderly who have difficulty leaving their house are at a high risk of geriatric depression.  In the blog post I mentioned above, one of the recommended steps for those who may be at risk or are suffering from geriatric depression is to eat well and exercise.  This is a perfect scenario where hiring someone to come in to the house as a cooking partner would be ideal.   Firstly, the cooking partner would make sure that there is a nutritious meal planned and secondly, the social interaction involved with cooking together is tremendous.  Cooking is not sedentary, it is active.  It involves planning, moving around, cleaning up, and a final product.   Perhaps the most wonderful part of it, is that you can do it every single day!  This provides lots of opportunities for some quality social interactions.  Family members who are worried about the lack of social interactions for an elderly relative should consider hiring someone who can swing by and help cook a great meal.

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