Depression in the Elderly

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, about 14 out of 86 suicides that take place daily in the United States are committed by senior citizens over the age of 65. Statistically, senior citizens are lower risk than teenagers and middle aged individuals when it comes to suicide. However, according to the American Association of Suicidology

“One of the leading causes of suicide among the elderly is depression, often undiagnosed and/or untreated.”

But depression in the elderly is unique in that the factors that trigger depression tend to be specific to their age group. Some of the leading causes of depression in the elderly are severe health problems including chronic pain or cognitive decline, loneliness and isolation which can be caused by a shrinking social circle due to deaths or even by the loss of a driver’s license, a reduced sense of purpose which can come on after retirement or as a result of physical limitations, fears including fears of dying or anxiety over finances, and of course the loss of loved ones in death including spouses.  While health problems, and the loss of loved ones in death also plague teens and adults, the issues listed above are typically more common problems for seniors.

It is important to understand the symptoms of depression in older adults and to find them assisted-living. That way friends or family can intervene to make sure that the problem is addressed. Some signs of depression include unexplained aches and pains, expressed feelings of hopelessness, increased anxiety, memory loss, lack of motivation or energy, irritability, loss of interest in socializing or in hobbies, skipping meals, forgetting medications, and neglecting personal hygiene. Many times, people who observe memory loss in their elderly loved one assume that the cause is Dementia. This is because symptoms of depression and dementia are similar. For example, in depression, mental decline is quick whereas in Dementia, mental decline is slow. Depression can lead to difficulty in concentrating whereas dementia can cause short term memory loss.

Again, the most important thing that family or friends can do for someone who is exhibiting signs of depression is to first get educated and then to learn about ways to intervene. In some cases, a doctor might recommend a mood stabilizer. However, family and friends can take positive steps by inviting their loved one out, scheduling regular social interaction and activities, planning and preparing healthy meals, and by assisting with medication management.

Assisted Living communities offer regularly scheduled activities, planned meals, medication management, and social interaction. If you feel your loved one would benefit from this type of stimulating environment, call Care Placement. Our senior care experts will do a detailed assessment to determine which properties would be right for your family member. For more information on depression and the elderly, you can visit HelpGuide.org.

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