Recognizing Depression in Older Adults
Does your elderly loved one seem disinterested or tired? While you may assume their symptoms are just a case of the blues that will eventually pass, these signs could be warning indicators of a much more serious mental illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about seven million Americans over 65 experience depression annually. Unfortunately, like many other health conditions, depression presents itself differently in older adults than in younger people. While seniors may not seem sad, they could be lethargic, a symptom often attributed to their age.
As such, it’s essential that you or your loved ones understand how depression manifests in seniors and recognize the warning signs of this debilitating mental illness.
Keep reading to learn how to recognize depression in older adults.
Common Symptoms of Depression in Seniors
As mentioned earlier, depression may be challenging to recognize in older adults. You may believe their mood, energy, sleep, appetite, or disinterest in relationships and hobbies is due to their age, medications, or pre-existing health conditions. That’s why countless seniors with depression can often be undiagnosed.
Some common symptoms of depression in older adults include:
- Sudden weight loss, weight gain, or loss of appetite
- Sudden disinterest in hobbies and activities they once loved
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, despair, and helplessness
- Lack of energy and/or motivation
- Aches and pains
- Sleeping problems, including trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Slowed speech or movement
- Substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol
- Worries that they are a burden
- Memory issues
- Neglecting to take care of themselves, including not taking their meds, skipping meals, and not bathing
It’s also important to remember that some depressed seniors might not feel “sad.” However, they may feel tired, lack motivation, or exhibit physical symptoms, including headaches, stomach pains, and worsening arthritis.
Causes of Depression in Seniors
Depression can be caused by far more things than a chemical imbalance in the brain. Significant life changes can also trigger symptoms of depression, especially in older adults.
Causes of depression in older adults can include:
- The death of a spouse, relatives, or friends
- Fears of financial troubles, death, and health concerns
- A reduced sense of purpose
- Isolation and loneliness
- Medical conditions such as strokes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, heart issues, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes
- Side effects of medications
It’s crucial to get to the root cause of a senior’s depression. If you or your elderly loved one is depressed, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional. There is no shame in seeking help.
Companion Caregivers Can Alleviate Feelings of Isolation and Loneliness
Are you a senior who is feeling lonely or isolated? Hiring a Visiting Angels Rockford companion caregiver could provide some social relief. Our compassionate in-home caregivers provide the emotional, social, and mental support you need to feel happier and less alone.
They can engage you in your favorite pastimes, accompany you on walks, drive you to appointments, help you cook meals, and keep your house neat and tidy.
To learn more about our companion care solutions, contact us today by calling 815-977-3452.