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Why Are Elderly at Greater Risk for Suicide?

It is a sad statistic that men who are 65 and older face the highest risk of suicide, while adults 85 and older, regardless of gender, are the second most likely age group to die from suicide. Suicidal tendencies are often triggered by feelings of hopelessness due to the loss of control over health conditions or financial circumstances.

Loneliness is one of the biggest factors that puts seniors at risk.Of Americans over the age of 65, about a third live alone. The meta-analysis of a number of studies found that socially isolated individuals were at as much as a 30% greater risk of dying within seven years, with the effect peaking in middle age. Loneliness correlates with increased risk of heart disease, accelerated cognitive decline, depression, decreased immune response, inflammation, increases in stress and atypical hormone levels, and disruptions in sleep patterns. By the numbers, social isolation is as dangerous as smoking or obesity, especially for seniors.

The list of risk factors for suicide include:

  • Health Factors

  • Mental Health conditions

  • Depression, Bipolar, Substance Use

  • Medication misuse or abuse

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Co-morbid medical conditions that significantly limit function, life expectancy or the patient’s perception of impact

  • Chronic health conditions

  • Chronic or severe pain

  • Executive function impairment

How Can In-Home Caregivers Help?

Suicidal behavior is serious, whatever the intent, and deserves the highest priority care from in-home caregivers. The best thing an in-home caregiver can do is be alert for imminent warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide, for example:

  • Talking about suicide or death

  • Giving direct verbal clues

  • Giving less direct verbal cues, such as, “What is the point of living?”

  • Isolating themselves from friends and family

  • Giving away cherished possessions

  • Neglecting their personal hygiene

  • Dramatic shift in mood or behavior

By watching for these signs. In-home caregivers can take proactive measures to protect a senior’s mental health and well-being.

If client is suicidal on a visit, in-home caregivers can do four key things to intervene:

  1. Stay with the client until they can be evaluated.

  2. Call 911

  3. Notify the in-home care agency office and supervisor

  4. Follow the agency and state protocol

Get the Support of Quality In-Home Care Services

Having the support of a qualified in-home caregiver can greatly improve a senior’s well-being. At Alegre Home Care, in-home caregivers receive the best training and attend to each person with compassion, empathy, and respect.


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