Recognizing Depression in the Elderly
Most people are aware that seniors struggle with medical issues ranging from high blood pressure to dementia, but the mental health of seniors is a subject that gets far less attention than it deserves. Many think it’s normal for seniors to get the blues, but research shows that over 6 million seniors age 65 and over are affected by depression in their later years. Yet only 10% of seniors living with depression receive any kind of treatment for it!!
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, major depression among the hospitalized elderly is as much as 11.5%, and shoots up to 13.5% among seniors requiring home healthcare. This may be because depression in seniors can often be confused with symptoms of other illnesses or medications.
Health and life events that can significantly contribute to depression among seniors specifically are:
• Limited mobility
• Facing mortality
• Life change from working to retirement
• Financial strain
• Substance abuse
• Death or friends and loved ones
• Chronic pain and illness
Symptoms of depression are similar regardless of age. Most common are feelings of sadness, irritability, apathy, restlessness, isolation, crying, lack of concentration, sleep problems, change in appetite, fatigue, thoughts of suicide and physical aches and pains.
It is not a normal part of aging to suffer with these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, usually precipitated by some event or life change.
If symptoms are prolonged, encourage your friend or loved one to see their primary care doctor who can diagnose and suggest treatment.