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Could Skype be the New Remedy for Depression in the Elderly?

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The older you become, the harder it can be to work through depression, says a number of elderly specialists. Seniors often face a unique set of the emotional stressors: difficulty adjusting to retirement, loss of a spouse and diminished health. Plus, many of the elderly are homebound and cannot always get out and socialise easily with others. The lack of regular social interaction in itself can lead to chronic depression.

When doctors prescribe anti-depressants like Prozac or Cymbalta, seniors often baulk at the idea because they prefer non-medication approaches. On restricted earnings, many elderly individuals simply cannot afford another prescription or psychotherapy. But medical and social researchers are investigating a new form of depression assistance for older adults – personal counselling via computer screen.

A six-week study using Skype and other videoconferencing technology provided tele-sessions between a psychotherapist and each senior participant. When the study concluded, 94 percent of the older adults gave high marks to the tele-therapy.

With the lack of geriatric mental health providers across the country, the online therapy may be a viable resource for the elderly who can’t shake their persistent blues. In addition, family caregivers and professional home care providers can look for signs of depression in older adults including:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Decreased interest in activities and hobbies
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Disrupted sleep

If a senior loved one shows symptoms of depression, be sure to consult with their doctor. To help with despondency, Right at Home adult and senior home care can help lift your senior’s mental well-being through companionship visits and transportation to a counsellor or social activities. And, as online talk therapy increases in practicality, Right at Home CareGiver’s can help the elderly connect to the computer-to-computer sessions.

If you were depressed, would you use Skype to combat your emotional low if given the opportunity?


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