Depression among the elderly is a serious problem. It can complicate other existing illnesses and the recovery from those illnesses. Even though depression may be common among this age group, it is certainly not acceptable. It isn’t a symptom of old age; it is an issue that needs treatment.
Sometimes depression is difficult to identify in an elderly person, because the symptoms are sometimes a little different and there is a strong tendency for denial that anything is wrong. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for a depressed elderly adult is good.
The American Psychiatric Association gives the following list of symptoms that must be present for 2 weeks minimum to diagnose depression:
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Mood is depressed
- Weight or appetite changes
- Losing interest and pleasure in activities
- Low energy levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thinking of or attempting suicide
Symptoms of depression in the older adult
- Denial of sadness
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Presence of anxiety and worries
- Irritable and complaining
- Lack of any interest in personal care
- Finding no pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
Depression is a problem in the elderly age group for several reasons. First of all, the quality of life and enjoyment in living is diminished with depression. Mortality rates are higher for depressed older adults. Depression has a deep negative effect on healthcare success, overall well-being, health, physical and mental function.
What can be done to help alleviate the problem of depression among our older adults?
Senior care service providers and caregivers have a close relationship with the seniors they care for. They may be the first ones to notice the symptoms of depression. A consultation with the family and the elder’s doctor could facilitate an early diagnosis.
- Be more aware of some symptoms of depression that are more common in older adults.
- Open communication and a listening ear between caregiver and older adult.
- Good support systems willing to help the elderly person get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for depression.
- Take down barriers that prevent elderly persons from getting depression treatment based on the assumption that other prevailing illnesses are more important.
- More education for family, family caregivers, in-home care service providers, etc. in recognizing the symptoms of depression and then taking the correct steps to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan in place for the senior adult.
- Our nation’s elderly population deserves to have every chance possible to enjoy their later years and have daily joy in life. Determining there is a problem with depression and then taking the necessary action to address the problem is the least we can do.
If you or an aging loved one needs senior care services in the Guilford, CT area remember there is “No Place Like Home-Care”. Call us at 203-483-7764 for more information.