Studies have shown that more than 2 million people over the age of 65 struggles with depression. Unfortunately, when many people think of depression, they associate it with sadness; however, sadness isn’t the only sign; in fact, many seniors suffering with depression may not appear to be sad at all. It is also a misconception that depression or the signs of depression are simply a part of the aging process. There is no denying that there are challenges that occur later in life that may cause sadness, such as health problems, losing their sense of purpose after retiring or the loss of a spouse-this is natural human feelings. Going the grieving process is natural as well as healthy; however, when seniors begin to lose hope or have noticeable changes in behavior, it may be depression. So, how can you identify depression in your senior loved one? Outside of being aware of the sadness, here are a few signs to be aware of that may indicate your elderly loved one is struggling with depression.
It is a misconception that it is natural to become irritable as people age. Loved ones often associate their senior loved one’s crankiness with having too much time on their hands, having aches and pains or just simply their age. The truth is, if your elderly loved one was once content and happy, this sudden change in their “mood” may be a warning sign of depression. Their irritability may be the result of several symptoms of depression, such as the inability to focus and not sleeping well.
Decline in Physical Appearance
If you have noticed a change in your elderly loved one's appearance, such as neglecting their personal hygiene, wearing the same clothes for several days or not getting dressed at all (wearing their nightclothes throughout the day), it may be a sign of depression. Unfortunately, depression, especially in the elderly may present itself as no longer caring about anything, including their appearance.
Loss of Interest in Activities
If you have noticed that your senior loved one no longer enjoys the activities they once loved, it may be a sign of their struggle with depression. For instance, if your parent was an avid reader, but lately they rarely pick up a book, or they participated in a weekly bingo game, but they no longer want to leave the house. A decline in social participation or a loss of interest in activities is clear warning signs that something is wrong. Although it may be due to fatigue or not feeling well, a continued shift in their activities is often a sign of depression.
Cause of Senior Depression
The onset of depression in seniors is rarely the result of one isolated incident; however, it can be a side effect that is brought on from several different types of medication. Depression may be genetic and has gone undetected for years, but depression in seniors is often brought on by the combination of several issues, such as medical problems, retirement, and lack of socialization, limited mobility and the loss of a spouse or friend. The important thing is that depression must be addressed; if not, in many cases, it will worsen over time.
The most common situations that may encourage the onset of depression is loneliness and the inability to do things on their own, such as attending to their personal hygiene or their limited mobility prevents them from getting out of the house for social activities. Unfortunately, not only does the inability to do these things possibly lead to depression, but as they struggle with not being able to do these things, it worsens the depression. The good news is home care providers can help seniors with a wide range of things that may deter or reduce the risk of senior depression. Home care providers can assist them with their personal hygiene needs, transportation to social activities, meal preparations, companionship and good conversations.
To learn more information about how home care providers can be beneficial for your senior loved ones, contact Meridian Care Services.