Senior Home Care Blog - Rochester NY

Depression and Seniors

By homecarerochesternycom

We all face difficult changes as we age- such as illness or death of friends and loved ones, retirement, or medical problems. These life changes can often lead to depression, and left untreated, depression can have a serious impact on your physical health, memory, concentration, and overall enjoyment of life.

It is estimated that about 6 million older Americans suffer from depression; however, depression is not a normal sign of aging. It’s important to know how to spot the signs of depression and seek proper medical treatment.

Some red flags are:

  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Abandoning or losing interest in hobbies or pleasurable activities
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness)
  • Fixation on death; suicidal thoughts or attempts

Seniors who deny feeling sad or depressed may still suffer from major depression. Look for these red flags:

  • Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Anxiety and worries
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of motivation/energy
  • Slowed movement and speech
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in socializing and hobbies
  • Neglecting personal care

It’s important to note that you should never assume any cognitive changes are simply a sign of old age. Cognitive changes may be due to illness, dementia or depression and should be assessed by a medical professional.

Many depressed seniors fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression, and never seek treatment. It’s estimated that only 10 percent of seniors seek medical help. Depression in seniors is often overlooked because:

  • Many assume that depression is just a part of aging.
  • Seniors tend to be more isolated, which in itself can lead to depression, and with lack of interaction, few around will notice a problem.
  • Seniors may be reluctant to talk about feelings, or seek medical treatment.