Waiting to eat my birthday cake with my grandparents.
According to an article on AAMFT, “Older adults make up 12% of the US population, but account for 18% of all suicide deaths. This is an alarming statistic, as the elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population, making the issue of later-life suicide a major public health priority.”
Wow. What is going on here? I never realized, before my dad, that so many elderly men and women are taking their lives. From most articles I’ve read, family members and those closest to the victims had no signs, no inclination that this could happen to their loved ones.
There is a growing number of suicides in senior group homes. They are feeling more depressed, more lonely, and less capable of doing things they used to do. My grandparents were put into a group home when I was young. We visited them almost every weekend. As I was getting into middle school, I didn’t really want to go see them. I thought it was boring, they never remembered who I was, and they thought I was a little child, bringing me stuffed animals. I cringe now, knowing that I had the wrong attitude. It was always a sad place. Many of them were in wheelchairs parked in front of the tv. Some couldn’t talk or use the restroom by themselves. Some did and said weird things. Looking back, I wish I would have gone more to see my grandparents, and talk with the other residents. They don’t get many visitors, if any at all. These are the people that raised us, provided for us, and helped us become healthy, happy adults. I wish I would have given them more of my time, getting to know them.
I think there’s so much hidden and underreported depression in the older populations. As we grow older, its physically harder to do the things we once enjoyed doing. That can make a person more home bound, more lonely. What can we do to help? Visiting with them. Even if its only for 10 minutes once a week. Call and check in. Maybe even send a letter or a card once a month, letting them know that we are thinking of them.
What can the older population do for themselves? Reach out when feeling depressed and lonely. No one needs to suffer in silence. There’s so many people that can help. Have a positive attitude. Get involved with senior events.
Don’t forget to reach out to your older neighbor, friend, and grandparents. They will appreciate it more than you will know.