Depression: Understanding its path through womanhood: 50's & 60's

It was really great meeting everybody today at WFYI's Speaking of Women's Health, and sharing this information with everyone. We do hope to see you next year! Here are the notes from the depression stressors coping skills for women in their 50's & 60's. Menopause

  • It's normal to notice mood shifts during this time & not feel quite like yourself. Due to hot flashes and night sweats you don't get adequate sleep, therefore your energy reserves are low and you feel more irritable.
  • Women with a previous history of Post-Partum Depression, premenstrual syndrome or prior depressive episodes are at a higher risk of developing depression during this time period.
  • Generally it's too hard to say if depression is directly linked to menopause due to other stressors going on in a woman's life (empty nest, raising a family, aging & ailing parents, etc...)

Empty Nest Syndrome

  • Feelings of depression that can set in when a child leaves for college or gets married
  • More women are affected than men, but men do experience feelings of loss too
  • The healthier the relationship is between the parent & child when the child leaves will help both transition during this time.

How to Cope:

  • Direct your new found time and energy on different areas of your life. Explore new or return to hobbies, leisure activities or talents.
  • Realize your role with your child may change from parent-child to more peer-to-peer.
  • Prepare early for this empty nest syndrome while the children are still at home: develop outside relationships, hobbies and interests. Take family vacations.
  • Make plans for the extra money you will have now that the children are out of the house
  • If you are married, use this time to re-connect with your husband; go on dates that you were unable to go on before.

Boomerang Kids

  • In the last year, 1 in 7 families have had a child move back home due to job loss, addiction, divorce, etc...
  • Both of you can agree that this is not a fun or exciting time for either of you, but agree to have respect.

How to Cope:

  •  Set expectations about work. Your child's job is to get a job. Resumes need to be sent out every day, and they need to be knocking on doors. Let them know you expect them to take menial work in the meantime before they find their career job.
  • Set a timetable. Decide how long your child will be living with you (week or months, not years). Having a time table will help them know how much time they have to look for a job and replacement housing.
  • Let your child know they need to help with chores. They need to do their own laundry and help keep the house clean.
  • Set a curfew. Your child is a guest in your house and disruptions cannot be allowed to the household members. Discuss a time that seems reasonable to everyone.
  • Have family meetings. Discuss what is and is not working on regularly scheduled meetings. It's easier to talk about issues when things are calm rather than when tempers are flared. 

Taking Care of an Aging Parent

  • 44% of American's aged between 45 & 55 have both living parents and children under the age of 21 years of age at home. They are called the "Sandwich Generation".
  • 2/3rds of these caregivers are women
  • Most of these caregivers are working full time or part-time

How to Cope:

  • Stay healthy. Eat smart, stay away from alcohol, & get rest/enough sleep.
  • Stay organized. Set realistic goals for yourself, prioritize and have a backup plan.
  • Ask for help. You will not be able to do everything yourself. Use your support system!
  • Enjoy things that bring you happiness. It's good to do things that take your mind off of your problems.
  • Step away if you get frustrated. Walk around the block or go into a different room.
  • Use community resources such as adult day services and local church programs.
  • Ask about your company's resources. Eg, flex schedules, FMLA, and company policies on caregivers.
  • Don't forget to thank your friends and family for helping!

Death of a Parent

  • The "Orphan Syndrome" happens when a person loses their last living parent.
  • Feels as though they have nowhere to call home
  • There's no "open door" policy anywhere
  • Begin to think of your own mortality

How to Cope:

  • Realize all these thoughts and feelings are normal and natural.
  • These feelings are temporary and will pass
  • This is a natural part of the grieving process
  • Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc... will be hard in the first few years
  • Plan for these anniversaries ahead of time and realize you may re-experience some short periods of sadness and grief.

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.