When thinking about their retired years, people see themselves gray-haired but happy, living a relaxed life without a care in the world. But a sudden tragedy can ruin this idyllic life in an instant: losing a beloved spouse, getting fed up with a boring, aimless life or suffering an injury that limits their freedoms all push a senior’s emotional and mental state to their breaking points, so much so that they may even wish to end their life.
Family members often don’t see the warning signs, and write off crippling loneliness or depression by stating that “Grandpa will land on his feet, he always does”. But very few of them actually recover such a dark emotional spiral…
Warning Signs for Suicide Attempt
According to research conducted by the National Council of Aging and Mental Health America, almost 20% of suicide attempts involve those between 45 and 65. This was closely followed by seniors above 85, with a ratio of 18.6%. Put together, this shows that every third person attempting suicide is an aging adult.
The numbers also estimated that the elderly are more successful at ending their life, due to the fact they are more serious about their intention. Fortunately there are clear signs indicating the battle over life and death in the senior’s head. Showing symptoms of depression or sudden mood changes is often key in spotting suicidal thoughts, but there are more subtle marks as well.
Social isolation, unexpected losses within the family, constant arguments with other relatives all contribute to the idea of giving up. It’s important to remain cautious if the aging person has medication or alcohol issues. Still, the most obvious signs are when they start giving away their saved money and prized possession or making worrying threats, such as “You’d be better off without me”.
Suicide Is 100% Preventable
The thought of committing suicide slowly nurture’s in one’s mind, but there is a chance to reverse someone’s unwillingness to keep on living. The most important thing you can do is provide support and company. Calling them every few days for a friendly chat has a bigger impact than you’d think. Seniors often mask their loneliness by being grumpy, because they don’t wish to be a burden. Shallow routines consume their everyday life, where they just exist day after day, watching TV or glaring out the window.
You must subtly challenge them and give them purpose. This can be done either by buying them a new pet or introducing them to social events. Tech-savvy aging adults find tons of opportunities browsing a smartphone, but registering on a dating site for the elderly also has its perks, since most users of their age log in only to chat and make friends.
Care and Support Through a Medical Alert System
Note that in this case the help doesn’t come directly from the product itself, but through the service the hardware comes with. Medical alert companies house an HQ full of monitoring agents who are trained to deal with any situation a senior may face, including emotional despair and depression.
Unlike suicide hotlines – where the operators may not know how to handle an aging person – monitoring agents are taught how to calm down a troubled elderly person. The staff members speak in a calm, reassuring manner and are capable of assessing the situation from a few questions. Some medical alert companies support the idea that customers are allowed to call the agents in non-emergency situations and have a brief chat. Knowing that there is someone out there they can rely on and talk to when they feel down is a huge boost for a senior struggling with depression.
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