How to Talk about Suicide with Your Senior Loved Ones

When you hear a news story about suicide, it typically focuses on younger adults and the tragic deaths of teenagers. However, many people ignore the fact that the suicide death rate is highest among seniors who are 65 and older. The suicide rate among older men is higher than the rate for any other demographic in the United States. September is a great time to have a conversation about mental health with your senior loved ones, even if it’s hard. How can you start the conversation?

The Warning Signs of Suicide in Older Adults

Older generations typically have more trouble discussing mental health, as there was more cultural stigma about feeling depressed or alone. If your loved one has a history of mental illness, substance abuse, physical illness or a history of suicide attempts, their risk will be even higher. Whether or not your loved one is at an elevated risk of suicide, you should always take the warning signs seriously, which include:

  • Giving away their belongings or sudden preoccupation with getting their affairs together
  • Making concerning statements like “Nobody will miss me if I’m gone” or “Life isn’t worth living”
  • Purchasing a firearm when they have not owned one in the past or been interested in owning one in the past
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family members

How to Help Lower Suicide Risk

  1. Encourage your loved one to seek professional mental health treatment for their depression or mental illness. Depression is treatable, and counseling and medications can make a big difference in how your loved one feels.
  2. Maryland has a Suicide Prevention Program that allows callers to sign up to receive support intormation and resources. You can dial 2-1-1 to access these resources, or even text 898211 to have them sent to you. You can also share the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number with your loved one, 800-273-8255.
  3. Help your loved one schedule and attend appointments for their various health conditions. When medication management is on-track and they are regularly seeing their medical care team, it will reduce the chance that they are experiencing negative mental health side effects from their medication.
  4. Loneliness is one of the hardest things that anyone can go through, so staying social is critical. During COVID-19 things have become more challenging, so make sure that your loved one has video chat capabilities and is using other tools to safely stay in touch.
  5. As we age, it can be hard to find and hold onto a sense of purpose and meaning in life. Encourage your loved one to find meaning in life through things like hobbies, spiritual pursuits, learning new skills or even volunteering.

Protect Your Loved Ones with Senior Care Lifestyles

Senior Care Lifestyles specializes in connecting seniors with the right in-home care, assisted living, or senior living community to meet their needs. We have helped hundreds of clients and treat each senior as a valued member of our own family deserving our personalized attention, compassion and respect.

For help, or questions please call us at 410-977-3718 or send a message through our website

Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Deborah Bakalich, Certified Senior Advisor®
Owner, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA®) & Assisted Living Placement Specialist - Senior Care Lifestyles, LLC provides compassion, guidance and recommendations to families faced with transitioning a loved one into Assisted Living, Dementia/Alzheimer’s Care, Skilled Nursing, Temporary Respite Care or a Continuous Care Retirement Community. Senior Care Lifestyles was founded in 2014 by Deborah Bakalich, a Certified Senior Advisor and graduate from both Towson University and Stevenson. Senior Care Lifestyles is uniquely positioned as a local (not National) Maryland based placement firm familiar with Maryland senior care facilities and in-state financial assistance programs for senior residents. They meet personally with each family to understand the seniors care needs including medical, personal lifestyle preferences, budget, religion and desired geographic location. They pride themselves in locally guiding and educating families through the entire maze of senior living options available and will schedule tours on behalf of the family and accompany the family on visits of communities. They are passionate and committed to finding the perfect match to call home and stays with the family throughout the entire process, every step of the way, until a decision is made, and the senior is safely moved into their new home. Senior Care Lifestyles can also provide the family with trustworthy, vetted, and reputable experts to assist with the transition for organizing, packing, moving, sale of real estate, estate planning, legal services, and determining eligibility for State, Federal and Veterans Benefits to assist with care costs. Deborah is a proud member of the Maryland Senior Resource Network (MSRN) where she has served as Vice President on the Board of Directors. She is a member of the Alzheimer’s Organization, Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Mid-Atlantic Network Group and a member of the Business Opportunity Network (BON).

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