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Posted by Tina Ellenburg on November 30, 1999 at 19:01:26:

In Reply to: Depression in the elderly for residents outside the USA posted by Paul Knaus on October 13, 1999 at 20:02:29:

I have been a charge nurse in a nursing home for about 5 years and most of my elderly patients have alzheimers but there are a few with all their faculties. Those with family that live outside of the city, whether outside the USA or not, are lonely and yes seem to suffer more with chronic depression. However, it has been my experience that when the staff and the patients get closely aquainted they become the missing family and the depression seems to lessen. They look forward to certain nurses or nurses aides or maybe kitchen help coming to work and worry about them when they aren't there as if they were their own family. I have many Grandmothers and Grandfathers in my life and hope that their lives are as enriched as their presence has enriched my life.
Depression in the elderly is a very common problem and can have devastating effects on everything from activities of daily living to mobility and appetite. One lady I cared for was just a doll and a former nurse and when her family went out of town for an extended period of time she became seriously depressed from loneliness as much as anything. We knew when she needed extra attention and extra love when she began calling 911 and telling them she couldn't breathe. The ambulance arrived and we all went to this ladies room and watched her walking around her room in no apparent distress and as soon as she spotted us her breathing became very labored and she was weak and kept begging for help. Of course this wasn't an emergency for the EMT's to take care of. But for me it was a cry for help. I stayed with this woman and talked to her explaining she didn't need to go to such lengths to get the attention she felt she needed all she need do is say Christina do you have time to visit with me? And I would make time to be with her. Her depression lessened and she no longer pulled little escapades such as the 911 call and she didn't suffer so much when her family went out of town anymore. Sadly she passed away a little over a year later and left quite a hole in my heart, but I know that year was a happy and productive year with much love on all sides. And a golden memory for me.

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