For Adult Children: 10 Tips on Helping Your Parent Handle Depression and Anxiety and How You Can Cope


Caring for Aging Parents

The senior generation grew up in a time when people did not discuss mental health.  Depression and anxiety carry a stigma that the elder population fears.  Unfortunately, depression and anxiety, among other mental sicknesses, is very common in nursing home residents.
To cope with your loved one who is suffering from depression or anxiety, understand where your loved one is coming from and how you can respond in a way that will ease their pain.  Also recognize that your health should not fall to the wayside during this life change.

As an adult child, you are concerned that your parent is suffering from depression and/or anxiety.  What can you do to help them handle these diseases?

  1. Ask your family doctor to find out what the problem is and monitor treatments.  Find out what medications have been prescribed and their potential side effects when adjusting doses and adding to any current medications.
  2. If your parent is lonely or does not feel like they can leave the house, accompany them to a local outing once a week so he/she can meet people and feel engaged in the community.
  3. Schedule regular meeting with your local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) to arrange for a visit on a regular basis.
    1. Downtown Chicago Community Care Center
  4. Research volunteer opportunities in the area.  Volunteering is a way your loved one can take their mind off their own troubles and gain perspective.
  5. Raise awareness about depression and mental illness among the elderly in order to push the movement towards removing the stigma.

Read for more information about the Depression Epidemic in the Elderly

What can you do to help yourself?

  1. Balance your needs and those of your elderly parent.  Prioritizing your health is not selfish; it is healthy.
  2. Watch for signs of stress and respond accordingly.  Signs include short temper, chest pains, and inability to focus on your work or home life.  See a doctor if symptoms worsen.
  3. Forgive yourself.  Understand that feeling resentful or angry is normal when dealing with chronic stress about a loved one’s mental and physical health.
  4. Learn methods of stress reduction.  Exercise regularly and make time for activities you enjoy so you do not compromise your health.  Read here for tips on ways to manage your stress.
  5. Find joy in the small things.  Relish the brief moments that make you laugh or smile with your loved one rather than focusing on the bigger picture.