Community Blog

Depression in Seniors: Is Your Parent Suffering From Depression?

By Doug Feltman

Depression in senior citizens is far more prevalent than most people realize and at Home Helpers, we often are given clients due to symptoms of depression. Many times, this condition goes undiagnosed because a senior’s children and other caretakers mistake the symptoms of depression as just getting older. Early Onset Alzheimer’s also can be missed due to symptoms being the same as depression.  Help your loved ones get the care they need, and seek out treatment to see what help is out there.


Signs of Depression

 Depression in the elderly can be slightly different than in other people. Many older individuals experience depression as a result of another ailment or disability. That being said, the symptoms are often similar regardless of age, and they include:


  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Spells of persistent crying
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sleep issues
  • Apathy
  • Thoughts of suicide


The likelihood of someone getting depressed is increased if there is a family history of the disease. A traumatic event such as the death of a loved one can also bring about mental health problems.


Destigmatizing Depression

 It can be tough diagnosing depression, especially if the person is unwilling to talk about it. A big reason why many senior citizens do not come forward with their problems is because there is still a societal stigma against mental illness.


The best thing you can do is to reach out to the person you love and talk about depression. You may not want to directly ask outright if your parent is feeling depressed, but you can ask if he or she has been sad lately. You need to make it clear you care. Show there is no reason to feel ashamed because depression is uncontrollable. Your parent may feel a lot better about talking more openly if you demonstrate there is no judgment coming from you.


Treatments for Depression

There are several ways to make it easier for your parent to live with depression. Seeing your parent often if they live in a care facility will help. Show you care so that your parent feels compelled to seek further treatment.


Antidepressants can be prescribed by your parent’s doctor. Make sure to speak with the doctor about any side effects. The elderly can be more susceptible to side effects than younger individuals.


Counseling and psychotherapy can also be advantageous. This can be a good route to take if your parent is unable to take new medications, but it can also be done in conjunction with antidepressants.

At Home Helpers, we have found that we combat depression best by encouraging our clients to leave their homes every day, whether to go shopping or daycare activities.  For those most difficult cases, we try to combine a doctor’s visit with going out for lunch or some refreshments.


Handling Depression

It can be disheartening to see a person you love succumb to depression. Take immediate action if you are concerned your parent may inflict self-harm or commit suicide. Help is available, and you will feel better knowing your parent is being taken care of.