Depression is a problem for many older adults
Have you lost interest in former activities that you enjoyed? Do you feel hopeless?
You are not alone.
Depression is a common problem in older adults.
The symptoms of depression affect every aspect of your life. Including appetite, energy, sleep, relationships, hobbies and work.
Depression is often overlooked in seniors because they either fail to recognize the symptoms of depression or don’t take steps to get the help they need.
- Depression is a normal part of aging
- Isolation can lead to depression and there is no one to notice the changes
- You do not relate your physical symptoms to depression
- Reluctance to seek help
Causes of depression in older adults
Many life changes related to aging can lead to depression:
- Health problems- chronic pain, physical limitations, cognitive decline, changes in body image
- Loneliness- smaller social circle due to death or relocation, decreased mobility, loss of drivers license
- Loss of purpose- loss of identity related to retirement
- Decline in physical abilities and/or mental abilities
Medical conditions can psychologically or directly cause depression in the elderly.
Parkinson’s disease, Stroke
Diabetes Heart Disease
Cancer Thyroid Disorders,
Lupus Multiple Sclerosis
Arthritis Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
Seniors often have more multiple chronic illnesses.
Prescription Medications can result in depression of the elderly. It is a common side effect, particularly when multiple medications are taken.
Drugs to treat blood pressure, heart disease, ulcer medications, steroids, sleeping pills, painkillers, cholesterol drugs and tranquilizers all can have a depressive effect.
Alcohol can be a coping mechanism to deal with physical and emotional pain. Alcohol may interact with other medications and impair brain function, sometimes worsening the symptoms of depression.
Is it Grief or Depression?
Grief is a normal reaction to loss. Everyone is different and there is no time limit on grieving. During this process there are still times that we feel some joy and happiness.
Depression however leaves one with a constant sense of emptiness, despair and hopelessness.
Signs of Depression in the Elderly
Despite denial seniors may still have depression. Signs of depression may include:
- Neglect of personal care such as hygiene, skipping meals, not taking medication, poor housekeeping
- Anxiety and worry
- Lack of motivation, energy
- Unexplained physical symptoms
- Unable to sleep
- Memory Issues
- Loss of interest in socializing
Getting over depression
It’s never too late to develop a new skill or hobby. Keep the brain fit by learning new things and finding new enjoyment.
- Exercise has many benefits including lifting mood and gaining physical strength. Small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car further from the store can make a difference.
- Join some social clubs such as a seniors club or have someone come in to visit, or connect by phone
- Try some yoga or other breathing techniques to relieve stress.
- Proper diet with an added vitamin supplement
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Get involved in your community, volunteer or join a church group
- Pursue a new hobby or learn a new skill
- Laugh, it’s good for you and provides a mood boost
Getting Help for a Loved one or Friend
The nature of depression interferes with a senior person seeking help. You can help by offering emotional support. Listen with compassion and patience and offer hope. You can also ensure that your loved one seeks and gets appropriate treatment. Attend medical appointments and offer hope and support.