Depression in a 95 yr. old Male in Generally good Health Otherwise

by Mary
(Oregon, USA)

My Father is 95 years old and in relatively good health. He is hard of hearing, takes Comoudin (sp?) and has aches and pains like most elderly.... but what is the worst is his depression. He tried to take his own life because he is as he puts it: Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.


He can't drive anymore which is driving him crazy (no pun intended). He feels like he has no control over his life. He moved in with my sister who takes him to all of his Doctor appointments, has set him up with an in home person who comes to visit 2-3 hours once a week. They take him to college BB games, dinner and include him in most activities he is physically able to attend. But he is still depressed.

I think he just cannot accept getting older. The old adage, growing old gracefully is harder to do than most people think. At least it is for my Dad.

He has a lot to say but unfortunately he never lets anyone have a differing opinion and just says we don't understand him if we try to explain ours. He has developed of yelling, I mean really yelling at you if he is mad or frustrated with a situation. If you sit him down and ask him to be more relaxed about a situation or try to find out what is bothering him he won't tell you exactly what it is but just this general feeling of unhappiness with his life.

My sister, who is the primary caregiver in our family is the best suited for this because she is always even keeled, genuinely a sweet hearted person who does try and listen to you and figure out solutions. Even she is getting frustrated as to what to do.

He is seeing a therapist but he doesn't talk about what is going on now but just relays his life stories to the therapist. My sister is always trying to find ways to improve his quality of life, making sure he has at least 3 people, besides family that he interacts with. They say this helps fight the loneliness. I think he's just mad that he can't do the things he could do as recently as 10 years ago. She's given him a schedule of the Senior Life Line taxi type service so that he could go and walk around the mall or something of that nature but he says it's too hard to plan in advance. He has a good walker and a motorized chair that he uses to either walk or drive around the neighborhood daily. He's met a few neighbors doing this activity.

Their are five children in our family and we're all perplexed on how to make this better for him. I wish he'd try and see the good things in life instead of focusing on all the negative. Which he does constantly. He's a fairly intelligent guy (an engineer in his working life) and I don't know if that makes it better or worse for him.

It's an ongoing situation, as he tried suicide only a few weeks ago (with a plastic bag and rubber band around his head). So if you have a depressed Senior keep an eye out for these things in their bedroom. He kept his under his pillow. I know they are common items but still just be aware of how they could use them if they are depressed. I feel so badly for my Father but I'm not sure what to do? We were never the closest of all the kids in the group.

Well, that's my situation. What's yours? I haven't provided much in the way of relief for this problem so maybe you have some suggestions for us? There is a fair amount of guilt about this situation because I don't know how to make it better for him.

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My Dad
by: Kathy

My father will be 95 next month, he has always been a talker and has a vivid and clear memory for past events and enjoys talking about them.

Recently though he's becoming quieter and saying things I've never heard him say before. He's said for awhile jokingly that he has one foot on the banana peel headed to his grave. More recently he's saying no one should live to be 95.

Physically he's on a few medications for BP and dependent edema. He can walk with a cane, however it is getting harder for him to do so.

I know he's grieving his loss of independence and ability to do what he loved to do and enjoy.

He's a rancher and up until the past year was able to still drive his tractor on occasion.

He's an amazing, loving, hard working, family oriented man. It's so hard to see him not be happy and fulfilled. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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ACCEPTANCE
by: Anonymous

I am so impressed with your amazing family and how much all of you have come together to take care of your father. Your father has raised you to be loving, giving, compassionate people.
You have done so much to give him so many things to make his life better. It doesn't seem like there is anything else you can do...except one...acceptance.

He has lost things in his life that you can't give him. The control, the freedom, the independence, the old friends, the health. These things are gone forever. He may not be able to accept this, but you can. Acceptance will give you understanding and relieve your guilt.

Sometimes we try to understand someone from our perspective. You seem bewildered that he has so much "stuff" to keep him busy and occupied. If you could step into his shoes, you would be able to see that going to a card game at the senior center is not going to satisfy him.

I think it may be part of the closure in this lifetime that we accept that it will end. At 95 years old, he knows that it can happen at any point in time. Imagine if someone told you today you have less than five years to live. You would drop everything and run out and do all the things you've been putting on the back burner. He doesn't have that ability.

Maybe as we age we go through the five stages of death and dying. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. He is depressed. His next stage is acceptance. By trying to divert his attention with a bunch of busy activities, even with all your good intentions, maybe it is just throwing fuel on the fire. Try a different tactic.

First, accept it yourself, that your father will one day be gone. This may be hard to do, because you are such a close family. Once you accept it, help your father accept it, in whatever way seems to work for him. Maybe just quietly spending time in the backyard, sitting in the sun, sipping an ice tea, and looking at the flowers. Slow down to his speed and be where he is at now, in his time of life, instead of trying to keep him busy in your reality.

If I could have any time back with my father, I would just sit by him in the garden and just be near him and be his friend.

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Can You Imagine
by: Marie

At 95 year old, he has probably out lived all of his siblings and friends. I see my father-in-law get sad every time he gets a phone call from someone back home about a friend close to his age that died.

Is he on any pain medication? A lot of prescribed narcotics can wear off during the day, and the come down effect can make them very mean and cranky. If he is on any pain prescriptions, make sure that his pain is adequately controlled.

Has he ever been prescribed any anti- depressants? They helped my father in law through the loss of his wife, but he has since been able to get off of them, and is doing much better.

As far as the suicide attempt, that is something that should be addressed with a doctor, never take suicide threats lightly.

The nurse in me remembers my very first patient that I cared for during my student nursing clinical's. She was a lady who was about the same age and was diagnosed with a slow growing cancer. The nurse in charge told me to make sure that she ate everything on her plate. I went in as instructed and tried every trick I knew to get her to eat. But eventually she just put her fork down, and said "Honey, when you have lived as long as I have, you have very few rights left. One that I do have is to eat or not to eat, and I don't want to eat the rest of this food on my plate. Can you understand that?" I couldn't argue with the woman.

Try to keep in mind that he has lived for 95 years. Has it been a good life for him? Does he feel like his life has been fulfilled? Is he angry because people that he has known and loved have died and left him behind? You may want to watch the ending of the Green Mile. The main character in the movie explains very eloquently what that feels like. I hope this post helps you in some way.

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There is Help
by: Janet

Mary I am in the same situation as you. The in-home care more than once a week would help him to have someone else to talk to. Also there are day care facilities for the elderly that help them with activities in the day time or just to have other people his age to talk to.

The more he is alone the more he will be depressed. The secret is to have more people HIS AGE around him to give him more to talk about. Hope this helps.

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