Fr. Jerry, who writes a weekly column about the Sunday Gospel in a popular broadsheet usually ends his commentary with an invitation to the companions of the elderly to attend a seminar in his convent about how to recognize and manage depression in the elderly.
The major reason for the depression in the elderly is, of course, the deterioration of the physical body. Serious or major illnesses manifest themselves when the person reaches his 50’s no matter how one tries to stay fit or eat healthily. This is because there are other factors beyond their control such as the pollution in the environment, stress or other carcinogens present in the food or container which they are not aware of. There are some lucky ones who manage to reach their 70’s or 80’s, without any major illnesses. However, loss of agility or even mobility due to arthritis or osteoporosis, loss of teeth, eyesight or hearing still can’t be ignored.
Getting into my senior years, I also feel a sense of loss not only for my physical health but for friends and loved ones who have succumbed to illnesses. As one by one, we in our parish community or the partners, are diagnosed with cancers or other major illnesses, I have to brace myself with the fact that they won’t be able to join us for quite a while, or worse, they will no longer come back. Missing your friends is also a cause of depression. Hearing of celebrities around my age or older leaving the earth somehow saddens me, too.
Once, we were active and happy, eating or drinking anything we fancy as if we were invincible. But the years are getting by and like old cars who have covered so many miles, it is time for an overhaul until one is junked. And in between being overhauled and being junked, we experienced pain and suffering and which is why the elderly are usually depressed.