Charlotte’s Blog

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As If COVID Were Not Enough

We’ve all heard about COVID’s symptoms…the GI upset, the shortness of breath, the fever, the added symptoms of the long-haulers, the after effects among those who survive COVID and more.  We don’t hear much about the other big side effect among even those who don’t actually come down with the disease – depression.  In the years leading up to the pandemic and quarantine more than 18% of people 65 years of age and older showed signs of depression.  Dr. Kathleen Rogers of the Cleveland Clinic warns that depression or anxiety may be something akin to their own pandemic as a consequence of the isolation of 2020 and beyond.

If you have an older loved one with whom  you are only just now beginning to restore contact, be watchful:

  • Those who have lost friends or loved ones to the pandemic are highly likely to be depressed.
  • If your loved one talks with you about loneliness, isolation, lack of socialization…be attentive for a “down countenance” or even suicidal ideation.
  • Signs of disorientation or memory lapses also can be indicators for depression owing to disengagement.
  • Don’t be misled by the mom who always took care of things; women are almost twice as likely to have depression.

Signs of depression ought not be taken lightly, because depression is linked to other conditions like cardio-vascular health, dementia and more.  People do not just “snap out of” a clinical depression.  If you see or hear any signs of depression with your older loved one – and this is harder to discern over the phone or on ZOOM -reach out to:

  • Your loved one’s primary care provider who is able to schedule an appointment for an initial assessment.
  • The social worker or community case manager of the setting in which your older loved one may live.
  • Your local city or community health department; they are likely to have a social worker or an advocate who can go to bat.
  • The hotline – The National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or dial 800.622.HELP.

We’ve talked before about “if you see something, say something.”  Well, we are working with blinders still on as we all move back toward a new normal, so we may not visually see things as we once did.  Follow your instincts and emerging from the pandemic and quarantine may actually be a return to “normal.”

Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.

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