While scientists might not know exactly what causes depression, many factors can contribute to the development of depression. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that depression is a normal occurrence when one becomes elderly, but it is a medical issue and requires treatment. Here are a few common signs of depression that you might see in older adults.
Obviously a person who most often seems sad is definitely showing signs of depression, and this shouldn’t be ignored. Seniors face many serious issues such as the death of a spouse or close friends. Not only do these deaths leave a gap in one’s life, it also reminds us of our own mortality. Understandably, the fear of dying can be quite overwhelming, and many seniors struggle with feelings of helplessness about their life.
If your elderly friend seems to be tired all of the time or has great difficulty falling asleep, this also can be a sign of depression. Lethargy and fatigue are common signs of depression. When a person loses interest in their normal social activities or hobbies and doesn’t wish to see friends or relatives, this also is sign that they might be depressed.
You might also see that a person begins neglecting their personal care tasks. Perhaps they quit bathing, brushing their hair or rarely put on clean clothes. They might eat poorly and forget to take medication or have memory problems in general. A person also might become irritable, angry or anxious. Sometimes we worry that this is the beginning stages of dementia, but sometimes it isn’t dementia, it’s depression that causes forgetfulness and changes in personality.
Depression is a vastly under-treated illness. If you see signs of depression in your loved one, encourage them to seek help. The first step will be to visit a trusted doctor and ensure that medical conditions are not being overlooked and are being treated properly. Often, there are underlying physical problems contributing to the depression. This could be anything from a thyroid disorder to side effects from medications.
There are medications that can help manage the symptoms of depression, but it also is wise to use medicines in conjunction with therapy. Talking about your fears and problems can be a big help. You also should consider discussing your dietary needs with a professional and including some level of daily exercise in your life.
Sometimes, seniors feel overwhelmed taking care of their daily needs and feel isolated from others. While it can be a big step, moving into an assisted living community can be a way to drastically reduce the stress of daily life. The monthly fees include a variety of helpful services such as housekeeping, full meal services, laundry services, medication management, help with daily grooming tasks and a variety of social activities. Sometimes just knowing that you are in a safe place and your needs are being met can be a huge relief.
If you are interested in learning more about assisted living facilities in San Diego County or Orange County, Care Placement can help. We are a service that provides seniors with a list of quality, pre-screened assisted living homes, board and care homes and in-home caregivers.