Do you need help with emotional eating?

Many caregivers turn to food for comfort, especially during difficult times. 

For some, it’s a way to cope with all the stress of taking care of their loved ones. For others, it’s already become an uncontrollable urge. 

So how do you know if you need help with emotional eating?

Let’s explore it today. 

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is defined as overeating in response to negative situations.

Individuals turn to food for comfort or to fill emotional needs rather than satisfy their hunger.

Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by our emotions, specifically stress.

And according to Harvard Medical School, emotional or physical distress leads to increased intake of foods high in sugar, fat, or both.

Occasionally, it's not always negative to use food as a reward or as a form of celebration. 

But if you use it as a coping mechanism in stressful situations, you'll get stuck in an unhealthy cycle.


At the moment, eating comfort foods may bring relief and make you feel good. The frustrating part is it only works for a short time.

The good feeling fades away when you stop eating and worse, guilt kicks in.  

You blame yourself for not having more self-control. 

It makes you feel powerless over food and your moods. And it exacerbates the situation.

The difference between emotional hunger vs. physical hunger 

Before you break the cycle, you must know the difference between emotional hunger vs physical hunger.

It can be more complicated than it looks. And it's more likely if you're used  to using food to cope with your emotions.

It's also common to confuse both. But there are several characteristics that set them apart.

And knowing these differences is the first step toward overcoming emotional eating habits.

So, here are some questions that can help you in differentiating them:

Does hunger come suddenly or gradually?

Emotional hunger comes suddenly. It comes at you in a split second and makes you feel overwhelmed and rushed. 

It takes a while for physical hunger to start and it comes on more slowly. There isn't such a strong desire to eat. 

And it doesn't need to be satisfied right away unless you haven't eaten for a long time.

Are you craving a specific food?

help with emotional eating - sweet and savory

Emotional hunger is often linked to cravings such as sweets and savory food. 

The problem is, your body cannot distinguish whether you’re eating for fuel or for comfort. 

Food has the power to fire up powerful memories in us. And most people relate to cravings as something that put them at ease in the past. 

If you’re craving, ask yourself what kind of situation you’re in. Become aware if what you’re craving is a want or need. 

Are you experiencing mindless eating?

Mindless eating is when someone eats without paying attention to what they're putting in their mouth.

And this is more common than we think. 

We tend to get so busy that we tend to multitask. Instead of sitting down to eat in peace, we ‌do it in front of our computers or TV. 

We’ve become so preoccupied with being busy that we are no longer aware of the habits we’ve created, including the harmful ones. 

Our bodies become accustomed to these habits and it becomes automatic instead. 

Is hunger coming from the head or stomach?

One of the differences between stomach hunger and head hunger is the urgency. 

Stomach hunger is biological. It means the body is sending you the signal that it’s running out of fuel and energy. 

The body usually takes six to eight hours to digest food. This means there’s no need for you to consume food in between the time period. 

Stomach hunger also comes in gradually and builds into hunger pangs. And it doesn’t choose what type or kind of food you consume. 

And when you eat, you usually feel satisfied. 

On the other hand, head hunger is often emotional and abrupt. 

Hunger is triggered by external factors. It can be a stressful situation or an uncomfortable event. 

And because our brain craves comfort, we pacify our anxieties through food. 

Another concern that most deal with is binge eating disorders, where an individual can’t fight the urge to eat even when they feel full. 

Binge eating may relieve negative feelings at the moment. But it puts you more at risk in the long run. 

Symptoms can include the inability to stop eating or rapidly consuming large amounts of food. 

It can also mean stocking up on food for eating later in secret.  Some can seem normal when eating in public but gorge themselves when they’re alone. 

And others eat continuously throughout the day. 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, then it’s time to reach out and get help. 

What triggers emotional eating?

Like anything you want to change, the first thing you need to do is to be aware that the problem exists. 

As caregivers who face higher stress levels at work, you are more prone to experience eating disorders as a coping mechanism. 

A 2006 study found that 63% of caregivers had worse eating habits than non-caregivers. 

Family caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week caring for their loved ones. On the other hand, 13% provide at least 40 hours or more. 

Here are the most common triggers that cause emotional eating in caregivers. 


Caregiving causes emotional and physical strain. Many caregivers are always on call. 

And this leaves them little time for family, friends and even themselves. 

It can also be because they're worried about mom or dad, who has dementia. And they don't want to let them down. 

Or, parents may soon move to hospice. And it's a difficult time for the family to deal with.


Caregivers may grieve a parent's health decline and resort to certain foods for comfort. 

Warm apple pie, hearty beef stew - comfort meals like these bring back memories of "simpler" times. 

Most remember their elderly parents back when they were healthy. Or how the family ate together every night. 


Guilt is another tough emotional trigger. 

Switching roles with a parent can be emotionally challenging. 

And, it becomes hard to set boundaries between self-care and selfishness. 

Sometimes guilt leads to overindulgence. And this comes in the way of self-medicating or the form of self-punishment.


Caregivers also often make poor meal choices because of time constraints. 

They can't cook or prepare balanced meals three times a day while caring for their children and elderly parents. 

What are the signs that you’re experiencing an emotional eating disorder

Eating disorders are considered mental health issues that can change how individuals view themselves.

Disordered eating behaviors negatively affect a person's emotional, medical, and psychiatric well-being.

And the most common eating disorder is binge eating disorder.

To officially make an official diagnosis, individuals should meet specific criteria set out by the DSM-5.

Some signs to watch out for is if you overeat within any 2 hours. Or if you feel a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.

Sometimes the signs are so subtle, we don’t even recognize that it’s already happening to us. 

We often think of overeating when talking about eating disorders. But it can also go the other way. 

help with emotional eating - anorexia

The most well-known is anorexia nervosa, where people view themselves as overweight, even if they’re underweight. 

Those suffering from this ‌are often obsessed with monitoring their weight and restrict the calories they consume. 

Then there’s bulimia nervosa, where people binge eat. Then they purge to compensate for calories and relieve gut discomfort. 

If left untreated, it can lead to obesity-related health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Binge eating disorder patients are also more prone to suffering mental health conditions. This includes depression, self-harm, and substance abuse.

Emotional eating isn't an eating disorder itself. 

But it might be a symptom of an eating disorder that needs professional help.

How to find help with emotional eating the healthy way

Many people turn to food to deal with negative emotions, which are hard to deal with on their own. 

Fortunately, there are better ways for help with emotional eating.

Measuring behaviors

A food diary can help you track and understand your eating habits. 

Record your meals and snacks, then ask yourself a few simple questions about them. 

Did that extra chocolate help? If yes, how long? 

How did you feel before eating the ice cream? Did you spend the night hating yourself?

Reread your entries to spot emotional eating behaviors. 

Keeping track of triggers

Keeping track of what you eat and when may help you identify emotional eating triggers. 

You can use a journal or an app like MyFitnessPal to keep track.

Try to document everything you eat, big or small, and the emotions you're experiencing.

If you decide to contact a doctor about your eating habits, your food journal might be a valuable resource.

Choosing what to eat

It's also essential to ensure you're getting adequate nutrition to fuel your body. 

Consider getting rid of foods high in carbs and sugar that you often reach for when stressed. 

Instead, go for healthy snacks. 

Fresh fruits or vegetables, simple popcorn, and other high fiber, low-calorie items are a good choice.

Keep the foods you crave out of reach when you're feeling down.

And you may think about what you want to eat before you eat it.

Cope in healthy ways

Some caregivers find it best to seek social support. 

Others may see a therapist to help them sort out their feelings and unhealthy coping strategies.

Journaling has also shown several health advantages in reducing stress. So Instead of grabbing for junk food, reach for a pen.

Read more about journaling prompts here.

Last is to exercise. 

Moving your body is a much healthier way to relieve stress and release endorphins. Go for a walk in the sunshine.

Final thoughts 

Knowing you need help with emotional eating is the first step to fixing it. 

It’s not easy, but look at emotional eating as a challenge to overcome and connect you with your feelings.

Taking it day by day can help you better understand yourself and create healthier eating habits.

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


Articles of Interest:


There are many things to learn about food safety for handlers that we can apply as caregivers. 

Seniors are often at high risk of food poisoning, along with pregnant women, young children, and those with chronic diseases. 

To prevent this, we must continue to educate ourselves to keep our seniors safe. 

Why food safety is important for seniors 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 48 million people in the US get sick annually because of food-borne illnesses. 

But adults aged 65 and older are more likely to experience hospitalizations and death from such disease.

Seniors have weakened immune systems. And the majority are taking multiple medicines, which affect the stomach lining.

Older adults also suffer from chronic health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or arthritis.

About 80% of seniors in the US have at least one chronic health condition. And this makes them less capable of fighting off food borne pathogens.

Seniors also suffer from slower metabolism, and bacteria become harder to remove from the body.

Our vision, smell, and taste functions also deteriorate.

An older person may not discern the off-putting tastes or scents. And sometimes, even mold growing on the side of the bread can be challenging to see.

Another major concern is those seniors suffering from degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's.

The cognitive function here becomes impaired. And it makes them less able to manage around the house.

Deficits, especially in episodic memory, contribute to food safety handling mistakes. 

They may forget to check their fridge regularly. And this increases the risk of spoiled food not being thrown away.

They forget to turn off the water or oven, repeat or miss doses of medications. Or even store hazardous food items in their refrigerator. 

It's for all these reasons why food safety is important. 

Plus, seniors with Alzheimer's are more at risk from safety hazards in certain areas, like the kitchen.

To prevent dangerous situations, read more about kitchen safety tips here.

What are high-risk foods for the elderly? 

High-risk foods are more prone to getting spoiled because of improper cooking or unsuitable storage conditions. 

The risk these foods pose also depends on where the food comes from and how it’s processed.

Plus, they are most likely to contain harmful bacteria or viruses.

As identified by CDC, eight known pathogens account for most foodborne illnesses in the US.

But the most common pathogens affecting older adults are Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7

So here’s a list of high-risk food where you are most likely to find these pathogens:

Contrary to popular belief, undercooked meat is not the main source of food illness. 

The CDC reports that the healthiest foods, fruits, and vegetables, account for 46% of all "outbreaks of food illness." 

Leafy vegetables like cabbage and spinach were responsible for the majority of illnesses. 

And most were caused by norovirus, which is spread to produce from water contaminated by feces. 

Further, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), safe food handling and storage helps maintain food quality.

Many things can affect how bacteria or other harmful pathogens grow on your food. 

It includes the refrigerator temperature or amount of time left in the refrigerator.

Here’s a time limit guideline that will help keep refrigerated food safe to eat.

5 rules for food safety for handlers and caregivers 

Foodborne pathogens are sneaky. 

Foods that smell, taste, and look fine can contain disease-causing bacteria or viruses. 

Fortunately, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a health promotion campaign centered on five food safety tips to help prevent and manage food poisoning. 

Here are the five rules for food safety for handlers and caregivers. 

Keep Clean

Dangerous microorganisms are widely found in water, soil, animals, and people. 

They're most likely carried on hands, wiping utensils and clothes. 

And they can spread even with the slightest contact causing infection.

So, remember to wash hands before handling, during food preparation, and after going to the toilet.

Clean and sanitize all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. 

And protect kitchen areas from bugs, insects, and other animals.

Separate raw and cooked food

Raw meat, poultry, and seafood, has dangerous microorganisms. 

Most likely, these microorganisms are transferred onto other foods during preparation and storage.

So separate the raw meat, seafood, and poultry from other foods. 

Use separate utensils and equipment, like knives or cutting boards when handling raw foods.

And keep raw and cooked foods separate in containers.

Cook Thoroughly

Proper cooking eliminates nearly all harmful bacteria. According to studies, food cooked to 160°F can help ensure it’s safe for consumption.

So cook and reheat meals thoroughly, especially poultry, meat, and seafood. 

Soups and stews should be brought up to a boiling point.

And make sure that juices are clear, not pink for meat and poultry. 

Keep Food at Safe Temperatures

Cooked food should not be left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature. 

Refrigerate all cooked and perishable food promptly (ideally 40°F).

Prepared food should be kept at more than 140°F before serving. And it not be stored too long in the fridge. 

And frozen foods should not be thawed at room temperature. 

Use safe water and ingredients

Hazardous bacteria and chemicals can be found in raw resources like water and ice. 

Some toxic chemicals may also form in moldy or damaged foods. To avoid this, make sure to choose ingredients wisely. 

meal prep with food safety for handlers

Always choose wholesome and fresh foods. Avoid unpasteurized milk and cheeses.

Vegetables and fruits should be washed, especially if eaten raw. Do not eat or use food beyond their expiration dates.

What to do for food poisoning instances

The FDA recommends following the Foodborne Illness Action Plan if food poisoning is suspected.

The first is to preserve the foods you think have caused the infection. 

Save the packaging materials like cartons, cans, or bags. Also, write down all the food consumed for the past weeks and where it was bought.

Lastly, it's best to call your doctor.

Symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the bacteria or virus that caused the infection. This can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. 

Some seniors also experience loss of appetite and high fever or chills. 

But these usually go away on their own in about two days with no medical interventions. 

Dehydration is another major complication of food poisoning. It can be fatal because of fluid loss.

There are several ways to manage food poisoning cases.

Treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms and preventing further complications.

The main intervention and prevention strategy is to rest and replace lost fluids and electrolytes.

Individuals can do this by drinking plenty of fluids, preferably with oral rehydration salts like Gatorade.

It's also advisable to sip small amounts of water or ice cubes to melt in the mouth. It would help ensure fluid intake, even if vomiting persists. 

As the condition improves, bland foods like bananas, plain rice, boiled potatoes, and crackers are suggested.

Doctors also advise medications like antidiarrheal and antiemetic (anti-vomiting). Older adults are more likely to get hemolytic uremic syndrome, an illness caused by E. coli damaging the lining of the kidney's blood vessels.

But consult your doctor before taking anti-diarrhea medication, as some infections may worsen.

It can also cause urinary tract problems and kidney diseases. 

Final Thoughts

Tips about food safety for handlers and caregivers are crucial in helping seniors who live alone.

As older adults age, they become more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, especially food.

But knowing how to handle safely and prepare foods is an essential step in helping our seniors eat right and avoid infection.

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


Articles of Interest:


Hoarding behaviors can be an alarming sign for the elderly. 

We might think that it’s their way of being sentimental. Or it might just be something they do to cope. 

So how do we know if your elders are showing signs of abnormal hoarding behaviors

And what can you do to help manage it? 

Why do elderly people hoard?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding disorder affects 2.6 percent of the population. 

And it comes with a higher incidence among individuals over 60 years old.

Some keep everything from old newspapers to clothes and furniture. 

Others even hoard animals, which can be dangerous and unsanitary.

Often the reasons for hoarding remain unclear.

Here are some of the more common causes for hoarding behaviors in seniors.

Intense Personal Attachment

Alice has always been passionate about helping the less fortunate. 

In her time, she owned a tailoring business that donated clothes to orphanages. 

It was the least she could do, growing up as an orphan herself. She supported one orphanage close to her home. 

Image from Toronto Star

And over the years, she has helped orphans give good impressions for job interviews and other events. 

She wasn’t lucky enough to start her own family. But the people she helped treated her as a motherly figure in the community. 

Now that she’s 80 years old, she’s living on her own with a caregiver to help her now and then. 

Recently, her visitors have noticed more clothes piling up at one corner of her house. They thought little of it at first. But as they visited more often, the pile seems to grow. 

A friend asked her what she planned to do with it, and she mentioned she was saving it for the orphanage in the area. She just hasn’t sorted it out yet. 

A few months later, there was almost no space to sit in Alice’s house. Her friends volunteered to clean it out for Alice, but she declined. 

She insists on doing it herself.

Stressful Life Events or Traumas

Evelyn has been married to John for 59 years. 

They were a happy couple. John was ‌a good chap, always greeting people on the streets with a smile. 

On their 60th wedding anniversary, John suffered a heart attack and didn’t survive. He left Evelyn the house with their pet dog. 

Evelyn was calm and collected at first. She had nieces and nephews visit often, and she would tell stories of the past. 

One day, while her niece visited, Evelyn started telling the story of her five-year-old daughter, Julia.

hoarding disorders - toys
Hoarding toys


It surprised her niece to hear this. She always thought that Evelyn and John never had children. 

Evelyn then stood up from her chair and showed her a room full of dolls, toys, clothes, and other knickknacks she’s been collecting all these years. 

Now that John was gone, Evelyn had a lot of time in her hands. So she started collecting stuff. 

Her niece noticed there was something different from Evelyn that she hadn’t noticed before. 

At 90 years old, she had talked as if John was still in the house. It was subtle at first, but her niece realized ‌Evelyn was talking about a time long passed. 

Now that John was gone, it looks like Evelyn’s mind has taken her back to her youth. And it was specific to the time when they were preparing for Julia’s 6th birthday. 

Looking at the room, Evelyn has been collecting the trinkets for years. Some have collected dust, while the others are still packed in their original boxes. 

This left Evelyn’s niece wondering, how many years has she been storing ‌these things?

Mental Health Conditions

Michael has been struggling with mental health issues since he was younger. 

As a surviving veteran, he’s been diagnosed with PTSD when he returned home from the war. And he found comfort in collecting things. 

He experienced war, so he’s been collecting survival gears for a few years. He even created a bunker in case another war breaks out. 

His wife has been understanding about this. After all, she was a nurse during the war, and that’s how they met. 

But once she took a glimpse of their basement, it was filled to the brim with sleeping bags, extra clothes, tents, and other gear. Some were already broken and torn, but Michael insists that it’s will still be useful. 

Unfortunately, Michael’s wife couldn’t take it anymore. So she filed for divorce. 

Weeks after, a social worker visited Michael’s house. She was surprised to see how messy the whole house was. 

The house was dark and smelled rancid. The dishes were stacked in the kitchen sink. And Michael himself was out of it. 

The social worker asked how he was, and Michael said he was doing "OK". 

What are the 5 stages of hoarding?

Most would think mess and clutter is common. And we get to wonder, at what point does it become hoarding?

Fortunately, the National Study on Compulsive Disorganization created a scale to categorize hoarding levels.

It's helping professionals and their families understand the severity of these hoarding behaviors.

Level 1

This is the least severe level of hoarding. 

Most storage areas in the house are full of things that aren't supposed to be there. 

Closets, cabinets, and bookshelves are filled.

There's only light clutter, and all doorways and staircases are accessible at this stage. 

Level 2

A level 2 hoarder gets anxiety about their hoarded things. And this causes them to avoid visitors. 

And it’s the point where typical hoarding behaviors become obvious.

You can notice the clutter accumulating the walkways. It's also noticeably excessive in one or more rooms.

And some mold can be seen in bathrooms and kitchens.

Level 3

At this level, hoarders usually have very poor hygiene. They also experience emotional distress.

They’re very defensive of their living arrangement when confronted. 

And they often justify their living situation because they can't see the risks in their home.

Other signs you'll notice are narrowed hallways. And possibly as excessive number of pets.

A home area will show light structural damage. Some even have a visible flea or spider infestation.

Level 4

Those who reach this level of hoarding can go weeks without bathing. 

They usually suffer from mental health issues. And they can't see that their situation is unsanitary or dangerous.

Some signs you'll see here are rotting and spoiled food in the kitchen.

hoarding behaviors - kitchen
Image from Pacific Standard

Also, there are at least three areas with excessive animal waste.

Mold is noticeable throughout the home. And multiple rooms have become unusable.

Level 5

This is the most severe form of hoarding.

And those suffering from it may not live in their own homes. 

Human and animal waste are frequently in containers that remain around the home.

They also have major fire hazards throughout the home. We often see the walls as broken and crumbling.

And sometimes, there's no electricity or running water due to neglect.

It’s very clear that it causes a lot of problems for the person who has the disorder.

To have a proper diagnosis, a mental health professional does a psychological evaluation.

Here, your loved one might be asked about a habit of buying and saving. 

Pictures and videos of their living environment can also help. 

As part of the interview, they may also ask about other mental health disorders.

They’ll also use the criteria for hoarding disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), from APA.

Risks and diseases caused by hoarding

Hoarding has several risks. 

But the main issue is that it affects mobility. It makes it harder for seniors to move around the house. 

And it's even difficult if they deal with health issues like back problems or arthritis.

It leads to trip-and-fall dangers and fire hazards.

It can also make them unable to locate common and needed items. 

And this can be a big problem if they lose their medication or misplace important medical and household bills. 

For some seniors, it leads to family stress and conflicts. 

According to a 2012 report, hoarding behavior and dementia often co-exist.

Dementia is a general term that describes impaired cognitive functioning. And it affects the brain's learning, memory, and decision-making areas.

Seniors who suffer from it may also have major behavioral changes. 

That's why it's common for them to have angry outbursts at seemingly random times. And this makes caring for them difficult.

If you're experiencing this, here are my tips on how to deal with irrational elderly parents.

Dementia can be caused by several factors. 

But a group of medical diseases, like Alzheimer’s, can also cause it.

So is hoarding an early sign of dementia? More often, it happens in the early and middle stages of dementia.

But it can also occur at any stage.

As it progresses, they can no longer make healthy decisions. Or see the hoarding for what it is. 

And at its worst, they may not recognize friends or family members.

Read more about Alzheimer's disease here.

Treatment for hoarding behaviors in the elderly 

Treating hoarding behaviors can be difficult.

It's because they don't realize the negative effects of hoarding. Or they don't believe they need treatment. 

But there are several ways to treat hoarding in the elderly.

One way is to refer them to therapists or psychiatrists with experience in treating the disorder. 

They'll be able to help by providing cognitive-behavioral therapy. To date, this has been the primary treatment. 

It includes patient education and goal setting. 

They train individuals to focus on organizing behaviors. And they help them in decision-making practices.

They also provide motivational interviewing, so patients get engaged in behavior change.

Professional organizers and private care managers have also helped in some circumstances. 

Check out these videos from professionals helping hoarders clean.

They frequently collaborate with mental health specialists. 

And it's ensuring that they meet the mental health needs while cleaning up the patients’ environment.

For these patients, a long-term partnership with a skilled professional is required. 

And this includes monitoring and regular housekeeping services.

Also, treatment should address any co-existing mental conditions. 

This includes depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It's also best to talk with their physician about medications that may help enhance the general quality of life. 

Final thoughts 

Hoarding behaviors can have significant affects on the health and safety of older adults.

But what's important is that there are professionals you can always call for help.

And the best way to manage hoarding behaviors is to catch them in their early stages.

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


Articles of Interest:


Elderly suicide is such a difficult topic to talk about. 

No one is really comfortable talking about death and dying. And yet 18% of all suicide deaths in America consists of elderly suicide. 

This is an alarming number, considering that only 12% of the total population are older adults. 

The biggest problem is, we have little to no guidance on how to address these issues. 

So today, we’ll discuss the best ways to address and respond to depression and elderly suicide. 

I’m tired of living 

Imagine this. 

One bright, sunny morning, you hear the birds singing outside. 

Breakfast is laid on the kitchen table. The scent of freshly brewed coffee wafted across the room. 

You made your mom’s favorite. Pancakes with blueberries, doused in syrup with extra butter. 

Calling out, you expect to hear footsteps shuffling through the kitchen door. But no one comes. 

So you call out again, this time a little bit louder to make sure she hears it. 

Still, no familiar shuffle comes. 

So you decide to take a peek. You think to yourself, maybe her hearing aid is not on again. Or it might have lost its batteries.

You walk down the hallway and call out, ‘Mom, can you hear me?”. You do this because you know she can be startled in the morning. 

As you come closer, you hear little sobs from her door, slightly opened. 

elderly suicide mom

Then you get this sinking feeling… It’s going to be one of those days again. 

You knock on the door, making sure she hears you and feels you’re there. And you see her in bed, her back against you. Sobbing on the pillow, like a helpless little child. 

“What’s wrong, mom?” 

She doesn’t even bother to lift her head. Then she says, “ I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m tired of living. I just want to die and get this over with.” 

Usually, you would just shrug this off. Your mom has been a bit of a drama queen in the past. And it wasn’t that big of a deal. 

But somehow, this hits different. It’s been happening too often, and this time it feels like she is serious. 

You stand there, frozen. What do you say? What do you do? 

Looks like it’s been lifted from a movie scene, right? The truth is, this happens more than you think. 

Caregivers often hear seniors say they want to end their life. They’re miserable. They just want to die. 

And it can be difficult to hear, especially if you’re the child taking care of the elderly parent. 

It’s not easy to find the right words to say. But like every other challenge, the best way to solve it is to have a good understanding of its causes. 

If you’re currently experiencing this, you can find comfort in knowing that there is help. 

All you have to do is know where to look. 

Why elderly suicide happens

Most of the time, we think of teenagers and young adults when we talk about suicide. 

But statistics show different. The National Council on Aging found out that the highest suicide rate in any age group comes from those who are 85 years and older. 

And the majority of these numbers are male.

AAMFT also mentions that these numbers may not be accurate. 40% or more are considered “silent suicides” and are underreported. 

The causes of death include overdosing, self-imposed starvation, accidents, and even dehydration. 

Surprisingly, the highest contributing factor for these suicides is loneliness and isolation. 

Most people in this age have suffered so much loss and trauma, which is the biggest driving force for taking their lives. 

Even simple things, like giving up their driver’s license can trigger negative emotions in them. This may mean giving up independence or being stuck. 

Mental and physical health issues like depression can have a huge impact on this decision. 

Some seniors also cite lack of purpose and the loss of self-sufficiency as a heavy burden to bear. 

Then there are those who suffer from financial burdens and high inflation rates. 

Not to mention aches and pains, and side effects from medicine. 

All of these things contribute to seniors wanting to end their life. 

Aging is never easy. Losing yourself and your beloved ones can take a toll on anyone. 

That’s why it’s all the more reason for us as caregivers and loved ones to keep an eye on our elders and give all the love and understanding they need while they’re still here. 

Are your aging parents becoming more irrational as they grow older? Here’s how you can cope

Signs of suicidal thoughts in the elderly 

Signs of suicidal thoughts may not be as obvious at first. 

And oddly enough, most elderly suicide victims live with relatives or are in contact with friends and family. 

Despite all of these, late-life mood disorders and depression can still cause problems for the elderly. 

So what signs should you look for to see if your loved one is at risk of attempting suicide? 

Here are a few: 

These may be subtle things they say and do. But it’s something you must pay attention to, especially if you’re worried they’ll take it seriously. 

Take note of the times when they become teary-eyed or cry for no apparent reason. 

Sleep pattern changes can also indicate internal struggles they’re having. 

It will be heartbreaking, especially if you’re doing your best to keep them happy. 

If they tell you that they want to end their lives, ask them why. Listen and be patient as they speak their mind. 

Talk to them about what their feeling and don’t negate or deny it in any way. 

And if they still persist in talking about death or taking their lives, seek professional help right away. 

Help for suicidal adults

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How can you help an elderly individual who wants to take their life?

Here are some things to do to make sure you’re addressing their emotions while also keeping your boundaries.

  1. Get rid of anything that can cause them physical harm

Check for firearms, sharp objects, chemicals, and other potential items that they can use to harm themselves. 

It also helps to check for alcohol and other intoxicating substances inside the house and keep them away. 

Lock cabinets with chemicals they can use. And keep sharp objects out of reach. 

  1. Address physical symptoms 

Take note of the things they start neglecting as soon as possible. 

Check on their meals and how much fluids they take. Check medications and prescriptions if they’re taking the right amount. 

Are they letting go of their personal hygiene? Encourage and remind them daily. 

Encourage them to exercise or be more active and engaged with peers. 

  1. Look for signs of depression

Persistent comments about wanting to die could signal a deeper problem. 

So take note of your senior’s behaviors and how they respond. 

It’s normal to feel sad or low at times, but if it’s getting more consistent, then it’s something to be worried about. 

  1. Set personal boundaries

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Negative emotions can be too much to bear for anyone, especially if it’s something you hear consistently. 

It’s ok to take time to listen to what your elders are saying. But if it’s affecting you negatively, then it’s best to set boundaries for yourself too. 

Set a specific time when you are ready to discuss these negative emotions. And if they go beyond the time limit, then give them a gentle reminder of your agreement. 

  1. Get professional help 

Last but not least, make sure you’re getting professional help to address these thoughts. 

Talk to your doctor and see if the situation needs therapy or medication. 

Connect them with community leaders, church leaders, pastors, or anyone who can help comfort them.

You can also find support online. Here are some websites you can visit for further information: 

Final Thoughts 

Elderly suicide is a silent problem we all have to address. 

It’s difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s something we can prevent. 

If your elder is expressing thoughts of ending their lives, be more empathetic towards them. 

And remember, it’s not on you. 

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!


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