What You Need to Know About Depression Among the Elderly
What are the major signs of depression in the elderly? What are the important things you need to know about handling your loved ones when they may be suffering with depression? Why is in-home care an important option to consider when treating depression in the elderly demographic?
If your loved one is suffering with senior depression and you have not yet asked these questions, the time is now – but there’s also no need to panic. Take the situation step-by-step by first understanding everything there is to know regarding signs of depression in the elderly.
Clinical depression in the elderly is actually common – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s normal. Depression late in life affects nearly six million Americans aged 65 and up, but only 10-percent receive treatment for it. The likely reason for this is that the elderly often exhibit symptoms of depression differently; further, depression in the elderly is also frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses and the drugs used to treat them.
Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly: Recognizing the Signs
The unfortunate and all-too-many-times unavoidable changes that come along with getting older in our lives – retirement, the death of loved ones, increased isolation, medical complications – can lead to depression. The condition prevents us from enjoying life like we used to, yet its effects transcend just our moods: Depression also impacts our energy levels, sleep, appetite and physical health. But the good news is that depression is not an inevitable part of aging, and there are many things that can be done to overcome the symptoms.
Recognizing depression in the elderly starts with knowing the signs and symptoms. The common red flags of depression among this demographic include:
• Being sad
• Always being tired
• Letting go of or losing interest in hobbies or pleasurable pastimes
• Social withdrawal and isolation (refusal to engage with friends or in activities, or leave home)
• Weight loss or loss of appetite
• Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping or daytime sleepiness)
• Loss of self-worth (exhibiting signs he or she feels like a burden, feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing)
• Increased use of alcohol or drugs
• Fixation on death/suicidal thoughts or attempts
Treatment for depression can be just as effective for elderly adults as it is for younger individuals. The difference is because depression in older adults and the elderly is often the result of a difficult life challenge or situation, any treatment plan should specifically address that issue – for example, if loneliness is the root cause of the depression, medication alone isn’t going to solve the problem.
In-Home Care: An Important Option
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, more than 6.5 million adults over the age of 65 are affected by depression. Further, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) claims that depression risks among aging adults increase with illness and limited function. Mild to chronic depression affects approximately 40% of nursing home residents, according to the American Geriatrics Society. Despite its prevalence, few elders in nursing homes will openly admit that they are depressed, and therefore often goes undiagnosed and untreated — or treated as a “normal” part of aging.
In addition to seeking mental health treatment from a healthcare provider, arranging in-home care support through professionals such as Royal Home Companion can help with a loved one’s recovery from the disease.
What can a home health aide provide for your loved one suffering from depression?
• Nutritional Needs – Home care providers like Royal Home Companion can help to combat depression symptoms such as lack of energy or unhealthy/irregular eating habits through assisting patients with errands such as trips to the grocery store and light meal preparation.
• Medication Management – A home care aide can remind loved ones to take the correct medication in a timely manner, including antidepressants.
• Mobility and Memory – Home care aides provide assistance with errands to ensure the house is stocked with essentials. They can also assist with light housekeeping, often overwhelming for an aging adult with chronic pain or limited mobility.
• Keeping up with Healthcare Needs – Caregivers can set and remind patients of doctor’s appointments to ensure the preventative care they require is within reach, while also recognizing and reporting worsening depression symptoms to the patient’s healthcare team.
In addition to providing all these assistance protocols for home care patients, the support that in-home care services provide can reduce the overall stress of being a remote or on-site caregiver to an aging parent or loved one. This, in turn, reduces the amount of stress placed on your family and your aging loved one. Send us a client care request today.