Clinical depression in older adults is common, but that does not mean it’s normal. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older but unfortunately, only 10% receive treatment for depression. The likely reason is that the elderly often display symptoms of depression differently, and depression in older adults is also frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses and the medicines used to treat them.
It’s important to note that depression isn’t a normal sign of aging, it is a medical condition that needs to be diagnosed correctly and treated promptly.
Considering a North Phoenix assisted living facility, such as Anthem Senior Living can prove to be highly beneficial for your senior loved ones. Assisted facilities offer seniors the opportunity to meet people and make friendships, they are never alone (loneliness and isolation is a leading cause of depression in seniors). They always have someone by their side to talk to, eat with, have fun with, etc.
It should be noted that depression impacts older people differently than younger people. Depression, in the elderly often occurs with other medical illnesses and disabilities and lasts longer, and is also associated with an increased risk of cardiac diseases and an increased risk of death from illness. Simultaneously, depression reduces an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate. Depression has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack, too, which makes it very important to make sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated, even if the depression is mild.
A primary care doctor, using a series of standard questions can offer an effective screening for depression, allowing for better diagnosis and treatments. Healthcare providers are encouraged to routinely screen for depression, which can happen during a visit for a chronic illness or at a wellness visit.
According to the National Institute Of Mental Health, depression in people age 65 and older is a major public health problem, which increases the risk of suicide. The rate of suicide in people ages 80 to 84 is more than twice that of the general population. Additionally, advancing age is often accompanied by loss of social support systems due to the death of a spouse or siblings, retirement, or relocation of residence. Doctors and family may miss the signs of depression because of changes in an older adult’s circumstances and the fact that elderly people are expected to slow down, which often results in delay in effective treatment, forcing many elderly people to struggle unnecessarily with depression.
Signs And Symptoms Of Depression In Seniors:
Many symptoms of depression are often overlooked and untreated in seniors as they often coincide with chronic health condition and life changes- this is the unfortunate truth. Still clinical depression is not a normal reaction to life events nor is it a normal sign of aging. Depression and grief are different, the former is persuasive and pervasive and includes symptoms, such as confused speech, hallucinations and delusions, irritability or restlessness, changes in sleep and eating habits, sudden changes in weight, fatigue and decreased energy, consistent feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed.
Causes Of Depression:
Although, every person is unique and triggers for depression or a depressive episode are different for each person, older adults are at an increased risk. People with illnesses, or whose function becomes limited are at high risk. Some of the other causes of depression in seniors include the loss of loved ones, a family history of depression, increased feelings of loneliness and isolation, certain medications like cardiovascular drugs, chemotherapeutics, antipsychotic drugs, anti-anxiety medication, sedatives, anticonvulsants, and anti-inflammatory drugs, and chronic illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Preventing And Treating Depression:
Fortunately, clinical depression is very treatable when diagnosed correctly, and more than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Group therapy and lifestyle changes that would include more a focus on health, wellness, and self-care are additional treatment options.
Staying engaged and active is key to preventing depression in older adults. Great ways to prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation that can lead to depression include learning a new skill, taking care of a pet, finding new hobbies, and forming new relationships. Moving into an assisted living facility is a great way to do all of these things in an encouraging environment. Moreover, senior living communities are a great way for seniors to experience true belonging and community with fitness classes, planned excursions, etc.