Navigating Geriatric Depression: Guide for Nursing Homes

When working with the vintage population, especially individuals with dementia, you often will see signs of geriatric depression. Below is a guide to navigating geriatric depression and creating a positive environment that is supportive to individuals dealing with depressive symptoms. 


Start by ruling out medical conditions...

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V), we are required to rule out medical conditions before diagnosing a mental condition; medical conditions can cause/exacerbate mental conditions and vice versa.

From a clinician’s standpoint, refer your resident to a physician first for a full physical with a blood work-up and urinalysis.


Screening Residents for Signs & Symptoms

Some of these you may be able to screen and notice on your own but others you may need to refer the resident to a physician for a diagnosis. 


Screen for Common Health Issues that Affect Mood

  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • ...
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Noticing Geriatric Depression: Guide for Caregivers

Taking care of a loved one who is already dealing with a neurological disorder is challenging. Spotting the signs of additional concerns like geriatric depression can be even more tricky.

You’re trying your best to navigate their new normal. That is why we created a list to help you catch onto signs that point to geriatric depression which can affect physical, mental and emotional health, and cognitive functioning. If you suspect risk, contact a healthcare professional for further diagnosis and support.


Risk Factors for Geriatric Depression


  • Loneliness/isolation
  • Reduced sense of purpose
  • Health problems
  • Medications
  • Fears
  • Recent bereavement
  • Losses


  • Independence
  • Mobility
  • Health
  • Career
  • A loved one

Considering Possible Chemical Imbalance in Brain

  • Neurotransmitters that play key roles in depression are serotonin and norepinephrine
  • Lack of these neurotransmitters cause depressive symptoms


Signs and Symptoms

Cognitive Changes

  • Impaired concentration
  • ...
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How to Spend Time With Your Loved One With Dementia on Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day!

A day filled with love and appreciation for each other. 

This can be a difficult time for folks who are losing their loved ones slowly to dementia, but with some preparation, you can make the day a good one. Here’s how to spend time with your loved one with dementia…

  • Send them or together make a homemade card - it means a lot more when the noodles are glued to the construction paper and the words are your own, compared to current Hallmark options
  • Share old pictures with them - they’ll remember the older memories more than the recent ones, and it’ll give them a chance to share their own stories with you
  • Make their favorite meal - food is a love language for many, and a favorite meal goes a long way when you’re activating multiple senses
  • Turn on some old tunes - they’ll connect more with the older songs they grew up with and find a sense of calm and joy
  • Plan a day with their favorite activities - there’s nothing...
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How to Care for Someone With Dementia

When a loved one becomes diagnosed with dementia it’s a shock on the individual and their family. Often times, the management of the changes becomes the responsibility of the caregiver. Families must adjust their lifestyle, routines, and even the way they communicate. This requires an understanding of the abilities of their diagnosed family member. The number of changes can be overwhelming, especially at first. Below, we outline 3 different areas to focus on for a more thoughtful approach. 



Establishing productive communication with someone with dementia can be difficult at first. If you keep in mind these approaches you’ll have better luck.

During Verbal Communication

  • Use exact, brief, positive phrases
  • Speak slowly
  • Use a warm, genuine, adult tone of voice
  • Use words familiar to the individual
  • Ask for instructions
  • Ask one question at a time (wait 90 seconds until the next)
  • Eliminate distractions (e.g., radio on)
  • Use different forms of their...
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5 Tips to Helping Loved Ones with Dementia Enjoy the Holidays

A few years ago I wrote an article about the ‘5 tips to helping loved ones with dementia enjoy the holidays’ for Chicago’s Daily Herald.

This year I figured I’d do a reboot!

Spending time together as a family, especially around the holidays, is priceless. Yet, this can be a challenging season for individuals with Alzheimer's disease, or memory care needs, and their loved ones, but a little preparation can make a big difference! Here are 5 easy, hands-on techniques you can use to enjoy this holiday season together.


Tip #1

Bring a family pet along! This provides a wonderful connection to someone who may not always be able to fully communicate. Furry friends also assist as conversation starters. If a real-life pet is not an option, check out our Companion Pets.


Tip #2

During visits, provide your loved one with an object they can hold to reduce confusion and fear. This can rewire the brain to form new connections and helps ground the person in...

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What Is Aromatherapy and How Can You Leverage It

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the inhalation of essential oils to receive limbic support. When you inhale an oil, it travels through your nose, into the olfactory system, and works its way into the limbic system. The limbic system houses your memories and emotions. After you inhale an aroma, your limbic system produces an emotional response, a combination of your previous experiences and the oils specific benefits. For example, if you have fond memories of running around in lavender fields as a child, then inhaling lavender essential oil will elicit happiness and joy for you. In that same aspect, \lavender essential oil is high in linalool, a monoterpene, known for its calming effects. This experience would likely make you feel happy and calm when inhaling lavender.


How to use Aromatherapy

When deciding to use aromatherapy you have a few options of what you can do:

  1. Pour a drop of essential oil into your hands, rub your hands together, then cup your face, and take in...
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How to Navigate the New Illinois Mandate Part 973 Alzheimer's Code

The mandate released earlier this year, by the Illinois Department of Public Health, is in full effectWe breakdown the new code that affects Home Health, Home Services, and Home Nursing agencies

The official code is in the Illinois Register under:

Title 77: Public Health

Chapter 1: Department of Public Health

Subchapter u: Miscellaneous Programs and Services

Part 973 Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Services Code


Is your organization prepared?  

The new mandate, Part 973 Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Service Code, requires that agencies have...

  • Staff trained in dementia care
  • Appointed an Alzheimer's Services Director
    • Trained in dementia care and ability centered care
  • Alzheimer's Services Director complete 8 hours of orientation training and 12 hours of CEUs annually thereafter
  • Staff complete 6 hours of orientation training in their 60 days and 3 hours annually thereafter


The Illinois...

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How Cedarwood Essential Oil Changed My Family and Career After My Son's ADHD Diagnosis

Today I'm [Jessica Ryan] sharing my story of what led me to educating and advocating on essential oils. I will tell you what I've learned through studying brain health and essential oils. Essential oils and brain health were two topics I never knew would influence my life so much. Yet, they have changed my family's life and turned into my passion and career.
When a neuro-affliction captured my first born, I started digging into alternatives. I was terrified of starting my son on drugs that would only get stronger each year, for the rest of his life. Let alone all the side effects he would have to deal with. I thought, there must be another way! Little did I know that we needed an entire lifestyle transformation (more on this in future posts).
After I was introduced to essential oils, with curiosity (and some hallelujah) we began using Cedarwood. This was before we knew there was a clinical trial with ADHD and Cedarwood.
Cedarwood is high in...
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How often do caregivers struggle with self-care and guilt?

A couple months ago we surveyed a group of healthcare professionals and caregivers who work with dementia individuals. 

The survey was focused on caregiver self-care and guilt. We asked the following true or false questions.

  1. I have struggled with self-care at some point in the past
  2. I have lost touch of my hobbies, or I don't have a hobby
  3. I spend so much time taking care of others that I don't take time to care for myself
  4. At times, I feel guilty when I'm caring for myself, because I could be caring for others

The results were unfortunately not shocking since we know the burden caregivers carry, often putting their own needs last.

55% answered that they have struggled with self-care at some point in the past

45% answered that they have lost touch of their hobbies, or don't have a hobby

60% answered that they spend so much time taking care of others that they don't take time to care for themselves

40% answered that at times, they feel guilty when caring for themselves,...

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Introduction to Using Essential Oils as a Non-Pharmacological Approach

Many suffer from depression, anxiety, overwhelming guilt, false expectations, psychosis, and memory loss. These circumstances depict our decisions, our consequences…our lives. Support is essential. Even though it's our choice to take control, support and insight can create momentum. This is what drove me to be a clinical psychologist – to give back. To show others that there is light.
I’ve treated patients in various settings with mental and neurological diseases. I've learned that... the most effective is teaching patients to use their hands and heart to take control of their own life. These non-pharmacological, therapeutic techniques are known as coping skills. I have been teaching patients these skills for over a decade. I now educate mental health professionals to do the same.
A wise colleague once told me a story about a patient who wanted more medication to treat her depression. His response to her was, “Medication is only going...
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