Dementia With Depression: Six Ways To Boost Mood
It’s widely recognised that individuals living with dementia are more prone to depression. While one in five people in the UK experience depression at some point, it is predicted this figure is between 20-40 per cent for those with dementia.
Can dementia cause depression?
There may be many contributing causes of depression for someone who has dementia. Here are some examples:
- Feelings of worthlessness as they may be unable to pursue previous activities they once enjoyed
- Feeling isolated from other people as their ability to engage and interact with others can become impaired
- Low self-esteem due to requiring increasing levels of care and support as the disease progresses
Symptoms of depression
Common symptoms of depression include anxiety, sadness, lack of appetite and more time spent sleeping. They may also lose interest in a pursuit they once enjoyed.
Tips for helping individuals with dementia deal with depression
Seek medical help
If you think that the person with dementia is feeling depressed, speak to your GP or local health professional to find out what help and support is available. A review of medication may also be advised.
Going for a walk, enjoying some fresh air and being in a stimulating and striking environment, such as a park with beautiful trees, can stimulate mind and body. Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins.
Research indicates that regular exercise may also help to slow down the effects of dementia.
“Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the shrinkage of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that deals with memory and thinking,” says Dr Emer MacSweeney, CEO & Medical Director of Re:Cognition Health.
Interact with the person
Rather than leaving them in front of the TV while you go about daily tasks, involve them in activities and make them feel they have a valuable role to play. This will help to maintain their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Everyone needs a focus in life – make sure they feel like they still have a purpose.
Allow them to maintain some independence
Imagine how frustrating it would be for you to have everything done for you and not be able to take control of any tasks. Encourage the individual to do as much for themselves as possible – guide them through a task where appropriate, without taking over completely.
Seek comfort in small pleasures
Engage in the things that they love, whether it be animals, singing, bird watching, knitting, gardening or making art. There are many simple activities that can nourish the senses and brighten the mood.
Put on some music
Music can be emotive for many people, encouraging them to recall meaningful memories. Those living with Alzheimer’s disease may be able to recall memories and emotions and singing along will engage the brain and stimulate the mind.
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