Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Older Adults and Seniors

Depression is a real problem that many people, including older individuals face. Oftentimes, we fail to see depression in older individuals as there are extenuating circumstances in their life, such as the loss of a spouse or friends, or physical limitations that would seem to explain feelings of depression. However, depression among seniors is a real issue that needs to be looked at with care. The rate of suicide in depressed seniors is alarmingly high, and due to other changes in the seniors life that are often more salient, the symptoms of depression are often overlooked.

Seniors experience a lot of different life changes as they age. The loss of family, friends and spouses are some of the hardest things that a person has to experience in their life. Certain age-related health problems can limit mobility and make it difficult to participate in activities that once brought such joy. These things, in and of themselves, are difficult to deal with and can be a cause of depression, but certain medications that are also commonly prescribed for seniors, can also increase the risk of the senior developing depression.

If you think that the senior in your life may be suffering from depression, or simply want to understand the signs to look for, note the following signs of senior depression below.

  • Insomnia - Changes in sleep patterns are a common sign of depression. In younger people, this often manifests in sleeping excessively. But as we age, we tend to need less sleep and certain things can make sleep even harder to come by. Insomnia is a common symptom of depression in the elderly, which can, in turn, make the other symptoms, associated with depression all the harder to deal with.
  • Loss in interest - Just as in younger people, the depressed senior will show signs of losing interest in things that once gave them joy. They may begin to isolate themselves socially, no longer participating in activities or social groups that they once did. They may seem malaise, and lethargic, and have an inability to see the joy or good side of life. This is one of the biggest, and most classic, signs of depression and it should not be overlooked.
  • Changes in appetite - Depression can cause various changes in appetite. For some, food becomes an emotional outlet that they turn to when they feel depressed. With others, food is the last thing on their mind. If you notice any significant changes in the eating patterns of the senior in your life, this could be a sign of depression, as well as a quick and dramatic amount of weight gain or weight loss. If you notice these signs in the senior in your life, it might be time to start asking questions about their general feelings of wellbeing.
  • Anxiety - This is one of the common signs of depression that is most commonly seen in the elderly. A depressed senior may exhibit feelings of nervousness and anxiety. They may even begin to experience panic attacks.
  • Behavioral Changes - Depression does not just manifest itself in feelings of hopelessness, crying and other commonly recognized symptoms. Irritation, an inability to concentrate and forgetfulness are also signs of depression, particularly in seniors. These can also be the signs of an underlying health problem, so it is important that the senior is looked at by a doctor to rule any medical problems out.
  • Somatic delusions – This is a common sign of elderly depression and is an unhealthy fear and conviction that one has developed a serious, life-threatening disease or illness. This is especially common in seniors with other health problems, or who have recently lost someone due to a particular health problem. They will obsess and worry to the point of conviction that they have a certain disease or illness. They may regularly complain of vague aches and pains that seem to have no real connection to one another. These general feelings of always possibly having something life-threatening are considered to be somatic delusions.

Carefect Homecare services is a non-medical homecare service provider that offers a range of care options, from the small, to very inclusive, such as live-in options. We understand that the aging process can take its toll on seniors, mentally, and wish to help seniors and those who love them to understand the signs and be willing to get the help they need for depression, which is a very treatable condition, even in seniors.

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