Nursing Home Blues

Nursing Home Blues: How Doctors Can Help

The decision to enroll a loved one into a nursing home is a difficult one.  Perhaps more difficult, however, is the transition the elderly must make from a familiar and comfortable environment to a new, unknown one.  As we age, it gets more and more difficult to accept and adjust to change, and the move from one’s home to another one is a big change.  As a result, some patients become depressed.  Luckily, onsite nursing home physicians or resident’s personal physicians can help.

Doctors, especially those who are trained and knowledgeable about geriatric medicine, can serve several purposes in the quest for elderly patients’ good health.

Treating Depression

One of the ways is through the doctor’s understanding that older people can become depressed and that, it is important not only for their quality of life, but quantity and to address the problem head on. Doctors understand the repercussions of depression on the elderly’s health.  According to WebMD,

Depression tends to last longer in elderly adults. It doubles their risk of cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness. At the same time, depression reduces an elderly person's ability to rehabilitate.  Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Depression also has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack. For that reason, making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is important, even if the depression is mild.

Doctors have the knowledge and resources to fix depression in the elderly, whether it be through electroconvulsive therapy, medicine, or psychotherapy.

Advice From A Professional

A second way physicians can help the elderly’s battle with depression is through suggestions about everyday health related topics.  The elderly can be stubborn and disregard the advice of their loved one.  However, hearing advice from professional physicians can give the elderly that necessary push to do what they can and should do to help maintain their own health.  For example, a physician might encourage mental and physical exercises as they have been proven to promote mental well-being in all people, including the elderly.

Studies have shown that physical activities/exercises generate endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; all of these chemicals are believed to promote positive mood.

Mental exercises have also been shown in studies to promote a positive outlook.  For instance, listening to music stimulates the elderly’s psychological health as it subdues bad feelings, like sadness, and encourages good feelings.


Ageism is a huge problem.  After retirement, it isn’t uncommon for senior citizens to be viewed as stuck in their ways, weak, difficult, etc. not only by other members of society, but by their own family members. This results in a loss of respect for the elderly and people simply don't listen to them.  Also after retirement, and as one ages, the elderly slowly become more isolated; family members and spouses die, being in a nursing home cuts them off from their family and friends, and so on.

Nursing Home Residents can feel lonely which can be a factor in their depression.

Giving in a Small Measure

Sometimes, spending five extra minutes with a patient to hear one of their life stories is a small thing than can brighten his/her day and perhaps over time, aid in the patient’s healing.

Patient care isn’t just medicine and science; it’s also about listening and caring about your patients’ needs.

• Meet the Author • Amber Paley

Amber spends the majority of her professional life writing about elder abuse and nursing home abuse for her website,, and as a guest post writer. Amber spends much of her professional life writing about abuse in nursing homes.

4 comments… add one
  • Good advice there, I wouldn’t say I would ever like to go into a nursing home though.

    • Sure it can hardly be said that anyone goes to a nursing home by choice. It is just when you can’t take care of yourself and that the children don’t care. I hope there is a way out.

  • Assited Living Facilities CA: Our main aim is to provide qualityapartments for senior citizens so that their families can be restassured about them whenever they travel out, without having to worry
    either about their health or their security


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