While adults of all ages can develop depression, elderly adults are at a higher risk due to their life circumstances. Seniors are also more likely to go undiagnosed and untreated for depression, because many family caregivers don’t know enough about the signs and symptoms of the mental health condition. Chronic depression can have a serious impact on an elderly person’s physical health as well. Family caregivers should watch for warning signs and do everything they can to prevent depression from upending their aging relative’s life.
Causes of Depression in Elderly Adults.
Medical experts aren’t entirely sure what causes depression, but they have been able to identify some factors that contribute to its development in elderly adults. Instead of stemming from one event, depression often develops because of continuing life stresses. Biology also plays a big part in depression for many people.
Depression is especially common in elderly adults that experience chronic health problems, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, recent grief, and loss of independence. If elderly care providers and family caregivers note that any of these symptoms are happening frequently, it may be time for some professional help.
Warning Signs of Depression in Seniors.
Family caregivers, friends, and elderly care providers must be on the lookout for any red flags in an elderly person’s behavior that might signal that they are struggling with depression. People who are depressed usually don’t seek help, and may try to hide symptoms from loved ones because they don’t want to be a burden. It’s important for family caregivers to know that depression is a real illness and there are symptoms to watch for.
Among the most common symptoms are weight loss, lack of energy, headaches, insomnia or oversleeping, increased alcohol intake, neglecting personal hygiene, and loss of interest in hobbies or friends. In extreme cases, seniors may talk about death and dying and mention suicide to family caregivers, friends and elderly care providers.
How Family Caregivers Can Help Seniors with Depression.
Even the best family caregiver can’t fix depression, but they can take their aging loved one to a therapist or a doctor who can. It would be a mistake for family caregivers to ignore an aging relative’s depression, just hoping it will go away on its own. Psychologists with special training in geriatric depression can create a customized therapy program that can bring the elderly adult out of the depression with a lot of work.
Family caregivers and senior care providers can also do things around the house to help minimize the problems caused by depression. They can encourage the elderly person to exercise by taking a short walk or attending a swim aerobics class. Reducing isolation is another positive step for seniors with depression. Adopting a pet, volunteering, and starting a new hobby are also ways that elderly adults can minimize depression and focus on finding new meaning in life.
With attentive family caregivers and elderly care providers, seniors that struggle with depression can get the treatment they need to return to optimum physical and mental health once again.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elderly care in Burien, WA, please contact the caring staff at Wiser Care Services. Phone: (877) 279-5530. Serving all of Pierce County and South King County.