People of all ages, including seniors, can suffer from depression, a prevalent mental condition. However, because it’s symptoms might be mistaken for those of other medical disorders or typical aging changes, depression in seniors is frequently disregarded or misunderstood. In the United States, depression affects roughly 7% of seniors, but only about 10% of them receive treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Therefore, in order to provide seniors with the care they require, it is crucial to understand the warning signs and symptoms of depression.
Allcare Home Health Agency, Inc. has put together some useful information regarding Depression in seniors.
Sometimes, the warning signs of depression can be more nuanced or subtle in elderly patients. Instead of feeling sad, seniors might seem disconnected or numbed out, or show a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Elderly patients may also display anxiety, sadness, or hopelessness. Older adults who experience depression may also appear agitated or restless, have trouble with memory or focus, express thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or show an increase or decrease in activity levels or appetite. Home health caregivers and family members should ask questions and observe for changes in the demeanor of their elderly patients in order to catch any signs or symptoms of depression. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, family caregivers should seek the opinion of a doctor or other medical professional that is trained in mental health.
Some frequent indications and symptoms of depression in seniors include:
- Mood swings – Seniors may experience dejection, hopelessness, irritability, or anxiety.
- A loss of interest in past interests or pastimes.
- Sleep disorders – Seniors may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or may sleep too much.
- A sudden change in appetite or weight – Seniors may unintentionally lose or gain weight.
- Fatigue or loss of energy – Seniors may feel fatigued or show lack motivation.
- Having trouble focusing, remembering, or making choices.
- Physical symptoms – Older people may experience unexplained pains, headaches, or digestive issues.
Causes of Depression in Seniors
There are certain factors that may contribute to depression in seniors. Here are some examples:
- Long-term illness – Seniors with chronic conditions including diabetes, cancer, or heart disease may be more prone to depression.
- Physical limitations – Seniors who are physically limited or have mobility issues and find it challenging to complete daily duties may feel lonelier and more depressed.
- Sedatives and pain relievers, two medications that are routinely prescribed for older people, may have depressant side effects.
- Bereavement – Seniors who have lost a loved one, a friend, or a pet may experience depression.
- Retirement or loss of independence can sometimes cause a decrease in their feeling of self-worth or a loss of significance in life.
Treatment Options for Depression in Seniors
The sooner depression in seniors is identified and treated, the better the prognosis. Seniors with depression may benefit from the following treatments:
- Psychotherapy – conversing with a mental health expert may assist elders in understanding their emotions and creating coping mechanisms.
- Medication – Antidepressants prescribed by the senior’s physician can be used to treat depression’s symptoms.
- Light treatment – Exposure to strong light can sometimes enhance mood and assist elders maintain healthy sleep-wake cycles.
- Exercise – Regular exercise helps improve mood and energy levels.
- Support groups – Joining a support group can provide elders a feeling of community and companionship.
- Home Healthcare – In the comfort of their own homes, seniors can get individualized care from home healthcare services and companionship from an experienced caregiver.
In seniors, depression can be a frequent but curable mental illness. However, it can sometimes be difficult to see the warning signs and symptoms of depression in elderly individuals. Caregivers and home health agencies are trained to monitor and recognize signs of depression in seniors.
Family members or family caregivers of seniors who display any of these signs of depression should contact their loved one’s physician to schedule an appointment to discuss treatment and to rule out any possible physical cause for the symptoms. Seniors can enhance their quality of life and take advantage of their golden years with the right care and support.
Home healthcare providers play an integral role in detecting warning signs of depression in their elderly patients. Working together with all caregivers using open communication about the patient can help prevent prolonged depression or self-harm. Seeking out a doctor’s opinion as soon as symptoms are observed produces the best outcomes.
Allcare Home Health Agency, Inc. offers non-medical and skilled nursing services in the Raleigh/Durham area. Call (919) 301-0236 to see how your loved one may benefit from one-on-one in-home care.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older
National Institute on Aging. Depression in Older Adults
World Health Organization. Depression
Four Things To Know About Depression and Older Adults | National Institute on Aging