Are You More Prone to Depression When Caring for a Parent?

Your mother fell. Again.

You got the call when you were in the middle of a meeting. You immediately left and went to your car to drive to the hospital.

Then, before you could even pull out of your parking space, the tears came–without warning and seemingly from nowhere. There have been so many things that have pushed you toward your breaking point. Even activities you once enjoyed–such as planting your flowers-don’t make you happy any more.

And it seems there’s no relief in sight.

Your children have noticed. Your friends ask why they never see you. Even the thought of a long, relaxing bath seems like a distant and far-away fantasy.

And you don’t see any way that it will get better.

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

It’s not surprising that those who are caregivers for aging parents experience extensive stress. From supervision to running errands to even making sure their parent is taking their medication, caregiving is both emotionally and physically exhausting.

This is why those who care for senior parents at home are more prone to depression than those who aren’t.


There are several contributing factors, and one of the main issues is that caregivers frequently put their own needs on hold. Caregiving consumes so much time and effort that there is little left over for self-care. This is one reason that assistive living communities have become such an important option to help relieve caregiver stress.

This means that every time you put off taking that time for a walk around the neighborhood, coffee with a friend, or even getting a good night’s sleep, you’re depriving yourself—and others–of the care needed.

As a part of May is Mental Health Month, we’ll take a closer look at the statistics behind caregiver depression as well as some advice and tips on how to cope with it. We’ll also examine how assisted living can be a viable solution.

Caregiver Depression by the Numbers

The Family Caregiver Alliance cites these facts:

  • Roughly 40% to 70% of family caregivers have some type of depression (this is more than twice the rate of that found in the general population.)
  • Women are more likely to experience caregiver depression than men.
  • Of caregivers 50 years of age and over, 20% of female caregivers reported depression as compared to 8% of their peers who were not caregivers.
  • Around 17 to 35% of family caregivers rate their own health as fair to poor. This percentage increases as the number of hours of caregiving increases.
  • Seventeen percent believe their health has deteriorated as a result of caregiving.

It’s important to note that caregiving itself doesn’t cause depression, and depression may be the result of several factors.

Sometimes, feelings of anger, anxiety and isolation can be contributing elements. Often, depression can be caused by brain chemistry, which is why it’s important to talk to a counselor or health care professional if you are experiencing the signs of depression.

What Are the Signs of Depression?

If you have experienced these signs or symptoms for two weeks, you should speak with your health care professional:

  • Sleep disturbances, either by sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in eating habits
    Loss of interest in things that once gave you pleasure
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Negative self-image—feeling like nothing you do is good enough

Not sure if you fit the criteria? Take this useful depression screening test. Be sure to discuss the results with your doctor or a trained counselor.

As a part of May is Mental Health Month, Mental Health America has created an informational hub called Tools 2 Thrive that can outline strategies to help you if you’re dealing with caregiver depression.

Methods to Cope With Caregiver Depression

There’s not any one method that works for everyone, so a part of your journey to wellness begins with exploring what is appropriate for you. However, in general:

  • Take care of your own needs. You can’t care for someone else effectively if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. This will quickly lead to burnout.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can be from friends and relatives or from an assisted living community.
  • Keep a close eye on your health. Are you sleeping too much (or too little)? Are you exercising regularly? By watching your own health you will help ensure you have more energy to get through your day.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.

How Can Assisted Living Help Caregivers

Caregiving is an all-encompassing and often frustrating job. Assisted living can be a wonderful solution because we can provide your loved one with assistance with medication management, bathing and other activities of daily living.

However, we always support your loved one’s independence and enable them to live independently as long as safely possible.

What makes assisted living different from skilled nursing care is that those in assisted living do not need 24/7 medical supervision. There are also memory care options for those who have Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

The option of assisted living means that you can step back into your role as son, daughter or spouse and allow us to care for your loved one with the dignity and care they deserve.

Contact us to schedule a tour today!