Even though rates went down in recent years, suicide among the elderly is still disproportionately high compared to other age groups.
The reason for elderly suicide is primarily depression, and experts say the causes for depression can be many, including isolation, loneliness, illness and more.
“The elderly suffer a great many losses,” said Dr. Lanny Berman, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). “When they get depressed they tend to isolate and withdraw.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Relative to those younger, rates of completed suicide are highest among the elderly (age 80 and over).”
The CDC numbers also show that while people age 65 and over made up 12.9 percent of the 2009 population, that same group made up 15.9 percent of the suicides. For people age 65 and over, the rate of suicides in 2009 was 14.8 per 100,000.
Age alone does not determine the likelihood of suicide: Berman and other experts agree that access to guns, being white and being male are all factors, in addition to age.
“White males comprise about 80 percent of suicides,” said Berman, who says he has “no answer” for why race factors into suicide. “Men More >
Within the world of caregiving there are many relationship dynamics – adult children caring for their elderly parents; parents caring for special needs children; a spouse caring for their partner, and many others.
The circumstances of each caregiving experience come with different challenges, responsibilities, and rewards. The role of being a caregiver to one’s spouse can be particularly trying, especially if it comes well before the golden years.
Karen Garner is a 42-year old mother of an 8-year-old and an 11-year-old. She also juggles a full-time job and providing dementia home care for her 50-year-old husband who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease strikes people before the age of 65. It is very uncommon when it strikes someone before their 50s. Karen’s husband, Jim, had symptoms of the disease for at least two to four years prior to his diagnosis. Early-onset Alzheimer’s appears to be genetic; Jim’s mother and brother both had Alzheimer’s disease.
“I feel really bad for Jim,” Karen said. “I hate to see such a nice person go through this and to have my kids go through this.”
Karen says she is very concerned about whether or not her own children will inherit the disease.
“My More >
As families’ elderly parents celebrate Mother’s Day, there are many options for activities and gifts that can bring joy to all involved.
As people age, the ultimate expression of love is the way they care for others. This could be an elderly wife caring for her ailing husband, or an adult daughter providing care for her ill mother. This makes celebrating Mother’s Day more difficult than it used to be. One option for a Mother’s Day gift comes in the form of respite care. By finding a temporary stand-in caregiver for a loved one, it gives the adult daughter or older wife a much-needed break. Sometimes a few hours of refreshing separation can be the most help.
There are also several other ideas for possible gifts and activities families can try that can make for an enjoyable experience.
• Go for a scenic drive or tour old neighborhoods. These trips to beautiful locations or down memory lane can lead to meaningful discussions and stories. • Create a scrapbook. Going through old photos and recipes and putting them into a book is a fun activity and it creates a treasured item along the way. • Go to church or temple. This may be something More >