Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Recommended Educational Content for Older Adults with Depression


Key Points


  • Depression is a medical illness, not a character defect
  • Treatment is effective for most people
  • The aim of treatment is remission (i.e., being mostly free of symptoms)
  • The cause, symptoms, and course of depression
  • A wide range of treatment options are available and recovery is possible*

Self-management of depression; lifestyle modification

  • The importance of basic wellness, such as sleep hygiene (regular sleep and wake times; avoiding eating, smoking, and alcohol before sleep; creating the proper environment for sleep; exercising regularly)
  • The benefits of exercise

Therapeutic interventions


  • The effectiveness, side effects, and precautions (e.g., do not discontinue medications suddenly)
  • Information specific to the use of medication (e.g., how to take it), and common misconceptions (e.g., medication is not addictive)

Non-pharmacological approaches

  • Clarify and reinforce the benefits of non-pharmacological approaches

Community resources and supports

  • For example, therapists or counsellors; issue-specific support groups


  • The early warning signs of relapse or recurrence
  • When to contact a practitioner (e.g., development of marked and/or prolonged agitation, mood changes, negativity and hopelessness, and suicidal ideation*)
  • Where and how to seek help
  • Crisis line phone numbers; contact information for urgent care

Follow-up care

  • Plans for monitoring and a follow-up plan
  • Relapse prevention
Older Adults
Delirium, Dementia, and Depression in Older Adults: Assessment and Care
Client and Family Education