Young people tend to consider old age a rather sad period in life – being old means a less fit body and mind. However, biology has its way of dealing with this; depression is definitely not a normal part of ageing. Senior depression is treatable if the right support, treatment and self-help strategies are provided. Here’s how to spot depression in older adults and how to help them deal with it.
SENIOR DEPRESSION IS SPECIFIC
Even if you have dealt with depression before, you as a young person cannot fully comprehend this state in older adults. Unlike depression in young people, depression in the elderly is often accompanied by other illnesses and disabilities and tends to last longer.
Although depression is a serious matter regardless of a person’s age, older people suffering from depression often face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, depression has been linked with an increased risk of death caused by heart attack, which is why you need to make sure that the elderly person you are worried about is promptly evaluated and treated, regardless of the severity of their condition.
Depression hits everyone differently and, although the signs are relatively easy to identify in most cases, each brain has its own strengths, weaknesses and ways of coping with psychological issues. In fact, there are several types of senior depression and here are the most common ones:
- Minor depression – less severe than all the other depression types; symptoms don’t last long;
- Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia – although far from the most severe depression type, dysthymia tends to last quite a long time, at least two years;
- Major depression – extremely severe symptoms that interfere with the patient’s ability to sleep, focus, eat and find fulfilment in life. Although some people experience a single episode over the course of their entire lifetime, in most cases, major depression recurs in multiple episodes.
KNOW THE SIGNS
One of the main problems with senior depression is the fact that in some cases, sadness isn’t the main symptom, which may lead to misdiagnosis or it may even go undiagnosed. Elderly people may have other, significantly less obvious symptoms and the problem here is that older people usually don’t express their feelings openly. This is why knowing the signs of senior depression is so important:
- Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
- Pessimism and general feeling of hopelessness
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Problems with focus, memory and decision-making
- Headaches, cramps or digestive problems without a clear physical cause
- Restlessness and irritability
- Appetite and weight changes
- Problems with sleeping, awakening and oversleeping
DO NOT TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR LIFE
Unless an elderly individual is fully incapable of taking care of themselves, taking over their life is a terrible idea. Patients with senior depression need to be active; doing things for them only reinforces their perception that they are incapable of taking charge of their own life.
Of course, some cases warrant an amount of personal care, and through InfoCare you can find professionals who can help your elderly relative with everyday tasks, such as shopping and paying the bills, or help them with showering, getting dressed and grooming.
Even though it might not seem so, you can rest assured that your elderly relative will want to share their problems with their loved ones. With older people, this takes time and patience. Keep in mind that pressuring a depressed elderly person into sharing can easily lead to regression.
Depression in older adults is quite specific and knowing the signs and types can be of huge help. Keep in mind that pressure won’t help and neither will take charge of their life. Being patient and understanding is essential when it comes to senior depression.
Author Bio – Diana Smith is a full-time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time, she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.