Promoting Emotional Health and Suicide Prevention for Seniors

Promoting Emotional Health and Suicide Prevention for Seniors

Do older adults have a higher suicide rate? Yes. Persons over the age of 45 are particularly vulnerable. This is according to research by SPRC (The Suicide Prevention Resource Center), which specifically finds that individuals aged 45 to 54 account for up to 8 in 10 suicides across North America. Furthermore, the statistics also show that the elderly have a higher suicide success rate than the younger population. All in all, the numbers indicate that suicide remains a grave concern for seniors, which is why our assisted living community believes it’s about time we discuss the elephant in the room. Today, we talk about suicide prevention for seniors, how to promote better emotional health for the elderly, and also how to spot the red flags. 

Picking out the warning signs- A key aspect of suicide prevention 

The rates of depression tend to go up with age. A huge contributing factor is a social disconnection that often comes with growing old. The elderly, especially after retirement, tend to suffer from social isolation and loneliness, which can lead them down the slippery slope of depression and eventually suicidal thoughts. 

A critical part of suicide prevention lies in being able to pick out the signs early enough. Most times, they are clear for all to see, and some of the red flags we encounter as a senior care service include: 

  • An obsession with conversations around dying 
  • Confessions of hopelessness and helplessness 
  • Overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt
  • A loved one becoming socially withdrawn

Many families often ignore the signs that are usually right in front of them. It’s important to be keen to not miss any red flags. Sometimes though, the signs are usually not so easy to spot. Variations in sleep patterns and a sudden turn of aggressiveness or depression may also be a cause for alarm. It’s important to talk to your loved one regularly and encourage them to share any bottled-up emotions that could be eating at them from the inside.

Promoting emotional health to nip suicide in the bud

Ultimately, the best way to tackle suicide in seniors is through a proactive approach to mental or emotional wellness. This is an aspect of well-being that doesn’t get the right amount of attention which is why our senior community likes to shed more light on this every chance we get. 

Here’s how to improve the emotional health of seniors: 

1. Help your loved one find a sense of purpose

Our lives are typically defined by a job that often consumes the majority of our youthful years. Once that goes away, then purpose can be hard to come by. However, it’s important to help seniors change their perspective of purpose, to derive more value not from a job but from laying back and catching up with family.

That said, here are a couple of ways to help seniors get back their purpose. 

  • Practice a hobby daily: That could be anything from walking and yoga to gardening, art, or sports. Get a journal, help your loved one to track progress, and set goals for the future
  • Ask: What does your loved one like to do? The answer to their next challenge lies a couple of questions away
  • Help others: Many seniors also find huge fulfillment in helping others. If your senior is up to it, field the idea of volunteer work.
  • Create: The human brain is wired to solve things and create. Writing, crafts, art, or even cooking can fill this innate need to be creative

You know your loved one best. It’s important that you appeal to whatever triggers their curiosity and gets them buzzing.

2. Consider getting a pet

We’ve seen it many times over the years providing assisted living for seniors. Pets can be a continual source of comfort, assurance, and companionship for the elderly. So why are pets good for depression? Well, many studies show that animal interaction has the following effects on humans: 

  • Lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol
  • Enhanced sense of belonging
  • Mood improvement (increased happiness, in particular)
  • Decreased loneliness

Moreover, caring for a fur – or scaly buddy- might just be what your senior needs to find purpose once more

3. Ensure social interconnectedness 

With age, it becomes tougher to preserve friendships. The demands of work, family, the demise of a spouse, health issues, relocation and many other factors stand in the way as the years advance. But with a little work, seniors can stay connected with pals, regardless of time and distance. 

Regular video or voice calls via the likes of FaceTime can be just as rewarding as a physical meetup, although they are by no means a substitute for it. Keeping in touch with friends can prevent mental and physical deterioration among the elderly. 

A senior care community may also be helpful 

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. When you have loads of time to kill doing nothing, ill thoughts can take root. That’s where assisted living communities can be of big help. Here, the elderly can benefit from a senior community where they can forge new bonds and friendships. Such a community can provide the social interaction necessary to starve off loneliness, isolation, and depression. Beyond that, seniors can also discover new passions and hobbies to give them even more reasons to not just hang on to life but look forward to it as well.

If you’re senior loved one is apprehensive about a permanent move and leaving their home or family, even spending just a few hours in such a setting can be beneficial for them. A memory day care for seniors can ensure seniors keep busy during the day and meet up with families in the evening. 


Caring for a loved one on suicidal watch may require eyes at the back of your head. Even so, you may not have adequate expertise or experience to help a loved one. Be sure to bring a professional into the mix if you find yourself in such a situation. If you’d just like to better safeguard a loved one’s emotional wellness, be sure to keep in mind the tips we discussed here today. For more inquiries on suicide prevention and how our assisted living center can be of service, reach us today via call or fill out the contact form. If your loved one is actively threatening suicide, get emergency aid by calling 911 right now.

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