Community Blog

October is National Depression Education & Awareness Month: Would you Recognize the Signs of Depression in an Older Adult?

By Vicki and Brian Day

Life brings a lot of changes. As a person ages, they may experience life changes that seriously disrupt their lives, like the deaths of friends and loved ones, illness, or disability. Many times, older adults are able to work through their feelings and adjust to the changes. But, sometimes, people aren’t able to bounce back and develop depression, a serious medical condition that can make it difficult to engage in normal activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are at a greater risk for depression. They estimate that as many as 13.5 percent of seniors are depressed.

Types of Depression

There are many different kinds of depression, but the three most common are:

  • Major Depression: People with major depression experience severe symptoms that make it difficult for them to sleep, eat, concentrate, and enjoy their normal activities. Major depression can happen just once in a person’s life, but it usually occurs more than once.
  • Minor Depression: When a person has minor depression, they have milder symptoms that do not last long.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): In this type of depression, the symptoms are not as severe as they are for major depression, but they last for two years or more.

Depression Symptoms for Older Adults

Often depression in seniors goes unrecognized. This may be because many people think that depression is just a part of getting older, or it can be because seniors sometimes don’t exhibit the same kinds of symptoms that younger people do. In fact, sadness may not be their chief symptom at all. Signs of depression in older adults include:

  • A change in personality.
  • Memory problems.
  • Aches and pains.
  • A desire to remain at home instead of socializing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Disinterest or no longer finding enjoyment in hobbies.
  • Irritability.
  • Restlessness.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings.
  • Loneliness is a Major Factor

One of the things that puts seniors at greater risk for depression is loneliness. In a report published in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, researchers stated that loneliness is among the top three factors that lead to depression. Many elderly people live alone after the death of a spouse. They may also find it difficult to remain involved in the community because of illness or disability. Hiring a senior care professional can help stave off loneliness. The senior care professional becomes a point of social contact themselves, and can also assist the older adult to remain involved. Senior care professionals can assist them to go to social engagements and community events by helping them to get ready and by driving
them. A senior care professional can even help with planning and preparing for a social gathering, such as a luncheon with friends, at the senior’s home.


Sources
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016701/
https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-symptoms-causes#1
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/dxc-20321472
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/older-adults-and-depression/index.shtml
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN WIND GAP, PA, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS. CALL TODAY! (610) 365-4266.