Detecting and Treating Depression In The Elderly

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Changes such as retirement, the death of loved ones, and medical problems often occur as a person ages. These changes can understandably cause sadness. However, it can also lead to depression.

While these changes are a normal part of life and are sometimes inevitable, depression doesn’t have to be.

According to Medicinenet, clinical depression in the elderly is common: it affects roughly six million Americans age 65 and older. However, only about ten percent receive treatment for depression.

It may be no surprise that depression in the elderly can be confused for just sadness that comes along with everyday changes in life. Depression in the elderly can also be overlooked as merely symptoms from other illnesses or medicines used to treat those illnesses.

Experts stress it is important to pay attention to any behavior or depression signs you may see in the elderly in order to help them maintain a healthy, happy life, at any age.

Don’t Overlook The Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly are similar to those seen in other groups. These common symptoms include sadness, fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies or activities, weight loss or loss of appetite, and suicidal thoughts.

However, many depressed elderly have claimed to not feel sad. But physical pain, low motivation, and lack of energy are very common symptoms among this age group. Look out for these red flags in older adults that can signify depression:

- Aches and pains
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Anxiety and worries
- Memory problems
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Slowed movement and speech
- Irritability
- Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, or personal hygiene)

Helping Yourself Or A Loved One Out Of Depression

No one is ever too old to have hope. Depression treatment is just as effective for older adults as it is for younger adults. If you are suffering from depression, try these self-help actions that can help guide you to a happier, healthier you.

- Get plenty of rest and sleep
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy
- Become a volunteer
- Take care of a pet
- Learn a new skill
- Surround yourself with friends and loved ones
- Laugh

Supporting an older loved one through depression is just as important as supporting anyone else. If you have an older loved one who is depressed or you suspect is depressed, consider doing any of the following:

- Invite your older loved one to go out with you
- Schedule regular social activities with them
- Plan and prepare healthy meals for them
- Encourage the person to follow through with treatment
- Make sure all medications are taken as instructed

Source: Help Guide


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