How to Identify and Address Depression in Seniors

5/26/2015

Everyone gets depressed every once in a while, but depression is not a normal part of aging. None the less, late-life depression is fairly common among people 65 and older, and it’s dangerous too. According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, depression increases risk of dementia. And the American Association of Suicidology reported in 2012 that the elderly account for 16% of all suicides in the US., despite representing only 13% of the population. As Maryland senior home care providers, at 2ndFamily we take depression in seniors seriously. Our caregivers are trained to identify the early signs and provide necessary support to your loved one to help overcome this condition.

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Symptoms of Depression in Seniors

It’s not always easy to tell if your elderly loved one is depressed, because the symptoms of depression are often dismissed as “normal” for their age and health condition. Depression is often taken for grief or perceived as a part of another illness, such as Parkinson’s. And if you only see your loved one occasionally, you don’t get the full picture of their lifestyle, so it’s possible to overlook the warning signs, such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in any activities
  • Reduced socialization
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability or “bad mood”
  • Constant fatigue
  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs

It’s important to understand that these are not just symptoms of old age, although many people do experience fatigue and loss of appetite due to chronic conditions. You should look at these signs in the context of your loved one’s average behavior. If your mom used to be a social butterfly and all of a sudden she is avoiding human contact, that’s something to be alarmed of. If you can’t be around to keep track of your loved one’s mental health, make sure there is a qualified caregiver who can see depression for what it is.

Causes of Depression in Seniors

Late-life depression is a common phenomenon affecting more than 5 million Americans age 65 and older. While depression is possible at any age, seniors are especially prone to it due to such contributing factors as:

  • Chronic medical conditions that cause ongoing pain or discomfort
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loss of independence, such as ability to drive
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Death-related anxiety
  • Stress associated with retirement and loss of the main income

In addition to the above factors, certain medications your loved one takes may also contribute to anxiety and depression.

Addressing Depression in Seniors

Thankfully, depression is a treatable condition as long as it’s diagnosed early. Besides prescription medication, one of the best treatments is emotional support. If you can’t be there for your loved one as often as you would like to, it might make sense to find a devoted caregiver who will provide the level of care and support your loved one needs. A big part of chasing the depression away is helping your loved one re-engage with the family, friends, community and past hobbies and interest they used to find joy in. Companionship of a professional caregiver is invaluable when it comes to keeping your loved one’s mental health sharp.

Contact us today if you are interested in learning more about our senior home care services in Eldersburg, Maryland. We can match you with an attentive and compassionate caregiver for your loved one.

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