Gardening appeared to be the best activity to reduce depression among elderly people, said Suphala Kotian, Shree Devi Institute of Social Work, Mangalore, here on Sunday.

Dr. Kotian was speaking on “Intervention to reduce geriatric depression” at the second day of the conference on “challenges in delivering primary care to the geriatric population in India” organised by the Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, here.

She said that in a study done of the elderly to reduce depression among them, they were asked to involve themselves in activities such as making greeting cards, brooms, taking care of other ill persons, and gardening, for at least three hours a day. The elderly who were participating in gardening activities would have to visit others to get the plants. “Social contact is very important,” she said.

Segregation in social life could lead to depression. “They should have family and social contacts. Tell school students to keep their grandparents at home,” said Dr. Kotian.

Keshava Pai, speaking on 'Geriatric depression: volcano unerupted', said that depression was under-recognised and undertreated. He, however, added that depression was 'very treatable'. It responds to treatment involving psychotherapy or medication, or to a combination of both. Art and music, aromatherapy, keeping pets, massaging, could help in reducing depression. Living with children, getting frequent visitors, social hobbies, participating in spiritual activities make the elderly feel that they are leading a meaningful life.

Dr. Pai said that old age is not a disease but a phase of time. Quoting Erik Erikson, he said it is a time when an individual can pass the wisdom he has on to the next generation and not a time of despair.

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