Caring young female comforting depressed senior woman on sofa at home.

Spotting Anxiety and Depression in Seniors with Memory Disorders

Last updated on February 23, 2024

As older adults age into their senior years, health and life issues can foster many adverse changes in their minds and bodies. Some may have difficulties with their memory, like forgetting names, events, or even their eyeglasses. Feeling confused and forgetful about everyday things can cause seniors to feel hopeless, sad, and powerless.

Sometimes, the memory lapses are more serious—especially related to memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia—and can have worrisome outcomes. Good-natured seniors may lash out verbally and physically, or stoic elders may become depressed or weepy.

Spotting early signs of anxiety and depression in seniors with memory disorders can help you seek the right care and treatment for your aging loved one.

Discover ways you can adapt and adjust care strategies to help your senior with a memory disorder improve their quality of life at home.

Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in Seniors

Did you know that more than 13% of seniors may have depression, and about 10-20% of older adults feel anxiety?

If your senior has mild anxiety or depression, they may experience mostly good days with occasional bouts of feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or highly emotional. Talk with your loved one and their doctor if you notice symptoms of anxiety and depression that last longer than a few weeks. Common symptoms may include:

  • Avoiding social functions and self-isolating
  • Anxiety attacks that can cause difficulty breathing, racing heartbeat, sweating, or nausea
  • Feeling empty, guilty, worthless, or hopeless
  • Feeling upset about schedule changes
  • Loss of pleasure in favorite activities or visiting with loved ones
  • Paranoia, irritability, or restlessness
  • Sleep disturbance (too much or too little)
  • Repeated wringing their hands, tapping, or picking at their skin or fingernails
  • Wandering attention or focus

Treatments to Discuss with a Doctor

When seeking treatment for anxiety and depression in your senior, it's essential for them to have an open dialogue with their doctor. Exploring the following therapeutic approaches can significantly improve mental well-being and overall quality of life in later years.

  • Medication
    Your senior’s doctor can recommend medications that work with the senior’s other therapies. Visiting Angels caregivers provide medication reminders for seniors so they don’t forget.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
    Talking with a mental health professional about current symptoms and building skills to manage them.

  • Psychotherapy
    Exploring past experiences that may have contributed to current symptoms with a mental health professional.

  • Exercise
    Yoga, water aerobics, and armchair exercises can help improve mood and increase energy levels.

  • Social interaction
    Encourage your loved one to join clubs or hobby groups to meet friends and avoid isolation. Consider companion care to bring friendship home to them.

Tips from Visiting Angels Caregivers

Loss of memory or emotional changes in your loved one can be difficult to navigate. You may begin to grieve the person you once knew and find it challenging to communicate. It’s normal to feel frustrated if your loved one is distressed and can’t express themselves.

Here are a few ways to reduce your stress, diffuse episodes, and potentially avoid triggering events:

  • Acknowledge them with a calm tone.
  • Ask (don’t demand) that they take medication or complete tasks. This will help them feel more in control.
  • Don’t correct them or try to reason with them.
  • Make use of respite care to get a break and reset your own mood
  • Provide a few choices at a time to avoid overwhelming them
  • Reassure your loved one they are safe.
  • Try not to internalize mean comments.

If they become angry or yell, remember the outbursts are due to changes in their memory or emotional health.

If you need professional in-home assistance, Visiting Angels caregivers can be your eyes and ears when you cannot be with your loved one and will monitor for signs of anxiety and depression.

Contact your local home care office to learn how Visiting Angels can support your senior with anxiety and depression. Schedule a free home care consultation today.

If you're interested in our compassionate home care services for you or a loved one, contact your nearest Visiting Angels home care agency today or call 800-365-4189.
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