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How to Recognize Depression in the Elderly

October 26th, 2009 · No Comments

Because of the myriad health issues the elderly face, they often struggle with isolation and depression, no longer able to live the life they have grown accustomed to over the years. Sometimes the depression comes upon them due to their circumstances while other times long-term prescription drug use can trigger the disease.

According to statistics released by the National Institutes of Health, approximately two million people over the age of 65 suffer with depression. Five million are diagnosed with milder types of depression.

Many aging seniors who have lived active lives watch their families grow up around them. They no longer feel needed or they lose their sense of purpose. They often wonder why they are still here on earth and long to join a loved one who has passed away.

The signs of depression are not always visible or can be mistaken for another condition. Here are the general signs to look for if you suspect your elderly loved one is struggling from depression.

  • They may grumble or complain about the smallest situations, never seeming satisfied with their current lifestyle.
  • Their general appearance may not be what you are used to seeing. They no longer care for themselves as they once did.
  • They lose interest in activities they used to look forward to, and no longer desire to visit or receive visits by friends and family members.
  • They no longer feel like eating or no longer enjoy their favorite foods. You will notice a decrease in their weight.
  • They struggle with insomnia, never getting good nights sleep.

How to obtain help for your elderly loved one:

  • They should see their primary care physician who can check for any illness that may mask the symptoms of depression.
  • The primary care physician should review what drugs they are on and if they are necessary. Acknowledge whether the drugs are causing depression or if it is a lifestyle situation.
  • Listen to what your loved one is saying. Let them know you care about them and their situation. It is not always easy to sit and listen to someone who is depressed, but they often need a listening ear.
  • Maintain a good eating program. Prepare their meals or find someone who can to make sure they are eating the correct foods.
  • Try to have them spend time outdoors as the weather permits. Plenty of sunshine will help lighten their mood, or change the light bulbs indoors so that they get proper lighting.

Many life issues come along in ones life that can cause mood swings or even depression. If the person has suffered the loss of a spouse or their house, or they have been ill for a period, they can sink into a mild depression. Other times, if not careful, a deeper depression can take hold.

By getting your loved on the attention, they need, over time they can gain the mental, emotional and physical strength to live a happier and more enjoyable life. Depression does not have to be a permanent condition. With love and support, the depression can lift.

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Tags: Depression · Elder Care · Health Care


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