Aging comes with tough realities.
Seniors may face the death of friends, family and even a spouse. They may
face health and medical problems. Some may take more than a dozen
medications each day.
More than 6 million Americans ages 65 and older
live with some form of depression,
according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
However, few seniors get the help or treatment they need.
People wrongly assume that feeling down is a normal part of aging. Many
seniors spend most of their time alone, so few are around to notice their
depression or distress.
When left untreated, depression can interfere with the lives of elderly
loved ones, decreasing their quality of life and taking a toll on their
health and well-being.
Seniors with depression are at higher risk for illness, prescription drug
abuse, alcohol abuse and even suicide.
What Can Put Your Loved One at Greater Risk for Depression
The factors that attribute to senior depression and social isolation can
Major life transitions or losses
Disabilities, illnesses, pain, or other health problems
Medications that cause feelings of depression or can exacerbate
Anxiety over health, finances, household, and family
Psychological or cognitive challenges
Know the Signs of Senior Depression
Depression has many symptoms, both physical and mental. Sadness may not be
the main symptom. Here are other signs to know:
Decreased energy or fatigue
Difficulty sleeping (falling asleep, staying asleep), or sleeping too
much, especially during the day
Feelings of anger, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
Ignoring hobbies, losing interest in activities and previously enjoyed
Neglect of personal care and hygiene (including forgetting medications,
self-care, and other similar activities)
Weight loss and loss of appetite
Withdrawing socially, isolating him or herself from friends, family and
other individuals, unwilling to leave home
What You Can Do
If you’re worried about your loved one, start with your doctor, who can
complete a physical exam.
Consider hiring a professional caregiver, who can foster a caring and
compassionate relationship with your loved one. He or she can assist with
grooming, meal preparation and the daily activities of living.
A professional caregiver can provide you and your family peace of mind,
too, that your loved one is comfortable, happy and safe.
In the meantime, keep your loved one connected and engaged as much as
possible, to avoid social isolation that can lead to depression.
See more advice to help a depressed senior loved one in