Managing depression in private home care

Elderly patients who are in home health care are often vulnerable to depression. Depression is often co-morbid with a range of other disorders that elderly people are vulnerable to including heart disease, Parkinson's disease as well as other persistent diseases. Depression can increase the risk of hospitalisation, so identifying and managing the signs of depression in elderly patients can help them to stay independent for as long as possible. Here are some ways home health care can help to manage depression. 

Identify early signs of depression

The earliest signs of depression can be subtle such as difficulty sleeping, less appetite, less emphasis on personal grooming and a reluctance to perform normal activities such as socialising with friends or exercising. Home health support workers are in a good position to identify these issues early and screen the person for signs of depression while still in a mild stage. This can help the patient to receive early and appropriate care for their depression.

Lifestyle changes

Small lifestyle changes such as getting help with eating a healthy diet, improved sleep hygiene, regular exercise and interaction can have a huge effect on mood. Having a home healthcare worker visiting can help to identify what support people might need to make these changes such as getting a meal delivery service or organising for them to attend social events such as group exercises classes, book clubs or men's sheds.  

Help getting to medical appointments

If an elderly patient does have depression that requires help from a GP or counsellor, the home health worker can help to co-ordinate transport to the appointments. This can be very useful if the patient does not feel able to co-ordinate transport or is generally overwhelmed with life. 

Monitoring medication regimes

Having a home health care worker can help to identify whether medication is being taken as required (which can be an issue for patients with cognitive issues) as well monitoring any side effects of the medication.  This can be very important for people with complex health needs who are often on a range of medications which can interact and cause side effects. 

Home health care is on the front line of managing depression in elderly patients. If you have an elderly relative who you feel might be vulnerable to depression, who is living independently,  it can be useful to organise a regular home health care worker to visit the home and monitor their moods and mental state.