All Posts tagged depression in elderly

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

In honor of Mental Health Month, now is the perfect time to shed some light on depression in older adults. Many people assume that sadness or depression is just a normal part of growing older. However, this is not the case. Depression is a medical problem that can be treated with a combination of medication and therapy. It’s important to remember, you don’t have to be sad. There is a way to stop it.

Depression in older adults is often brought about by the numerous changes in life that occur as people age. Retirement, death of loved ones, increased isolation, and medical problems can all contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness. The warning signs of depression include sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, social withdrawal, weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances, loss of self-worth, or suicidal thoughts. Seniors may also turn to alcohol or drugs to try and ease their pain, but this solution can actually make things worse.

If elderly depression is not treated in time it can significantly impair an older adult’s ability to enjoy life. Overall health may begin to decline and ultimately lead to an early death. Additionally, depression has been linked to higher rates of mental decline in seniors. But the good news is… it’s all treatable! Take our quiz now to learn more about elderly depression and how you can save the senior in your life from suffering.

Depression in Older Adults Quiz

Depression and anxiety often go overlooked in the elderly, leading to poor life quality. Take this quiz to learn more about how to spot depression in seniors.

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Elderly Depression During the Holidays

Elderly Depression During the Holidays

While the holidays are typically a time of joy, for some seniors, they become a time of dread. Elderly depression during the holidays is a real and palpable disorder that stems from a number of causes. Often, the holidays remind seniors of the good times they had earlier in life… and how they will never experience these good times ever again. Family members have been lost throughout the years, and growing disabilities make seniors feel alone and useless. Financial burdens, loss of independence, and growing health problems can compound the sadness.

Depression does not have to be a part of daily life for seniors. While times of sadness are ordinary (and are experienced by everyone, regardless of age), when the feelings persist for a month or more, there is a medical issue. Other warning signs of depression include:

  • changes in appetite or weight
  • crying often
  • changes in sleeping schedule
  • trouble concentrating
  • irritability and agitation
  • lack of personal care and hygiene
  • feeling restless or fidgety
  • thoughts of suicide

It is important to watch for and recognize these symptoms of elderly depression before they become too severe. Depression may not be entirely preventable, but it can be treated. Often, especially if a senior only feels sad during the winter months, medication is not required to alleviate symptoms. There are several ways to try and lighten a senior’s mood and brighten their holiday spirit.

  1. Make them holiday cookies. Though it’s a simple gesture, it will really show the elder individual that you care about them and dedicated your time to baking them a treat. Better yet, involve the senior in the baking process! They will feel useful and accomplished when the cookies are finished.
  2. Help them reconcile with estranged friends or family members. If a senior person has been feuding with a family member, help them to patch up relations between them. Holding a grudge is not good for either party, but for seniors who don’t have many companions, it can be even worse. The holidays are about forgiving and forgetting, especially when it comes to familial resentments.
  3. Be a good listener. Seniors don’t have many people to talk to, so they need you to be there for them. Encourage discussions about how they are feeling and be supportive throughout. Remember to put yourself in their shoes to understand how they feel.
  4. Help them volunteer at church, hospital, or homeless shelter. Nothing feels better than giving back to the community – and this might be an area that your senior has been lacking in. Find an activity that fits the physical limitations of the senior and help them accomplish their goal of helping others.
  5. Assist them in making holiday gifts. Homemade gifts are always the most touching, and it will make your senior feel like they have a purpose again. Distribute the gifts among family members or give them to the less fortunate.
  6. Decorate for them. Many seniors may be too depressed to decorate their living space. However, the twinkle of Christmas lights and the shine of holiday bulbs goes a long way to brighten spirits. Elders will appreciate how much you care and hopefully find their mood improved.
  7. Throw a holiday party for them. Elders have a diminishing list of friends and family members, so it is important to celebrate everyday for as long as they can. Throw an impromptu party and make them the star! Invite all of their closest companions and have them bring gifts for the special senior.
  8. Advise them to talk with a healthcare provider. If the senior’s feelings of sadness progress and linger even after the holidays are over, encourage them to seek help from a doctor. Depression is nothing to be ashamed about, and only a doctor can decide if a stronger treatment is required.
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Protecting Yourself from Depression

Protecting Yourself from Depression

With the recent death of Robin Williams by suicide, many are finally realizing the dangers of mental illness. A disease like depression is not simply something to brush off or get over. It is a complex and dangerous chemical imbalance in the brain which cannot simply be cured by a magic pill. People do not choose to have depression, and even people who seem to have a perfect and happy life can be suffering on the inside.

To put it lightly, many of our patients do not have a perfect or happy life. Many of them are sick and lonely. Depression in elderly people is common, as growing older leads to isolation and regrets from many years ago. Yet a mere 10 percent of those suffering from this mental disorder actually receive treatment. This is why it is so essential to be vigilant about watching for the symptoms of depression. It is only through support from loved ones and help from a medical professional that people suffering from depression can feel better. If you recognize that someone around you appears to be suffering from depression, encourage them to seek treatment from a doctor and let them know that you are there to support them.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

You may notice some changes in people with depression. These include:

  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • Talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about

If you fear that someone is at risk for committing suicide, do not wait for them to see a doctor. Immediately contact the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433 for more assistance.

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