Elderly adults experience a lot of changes in their life, from retiring and developing health issues to financial challenges and the deaths of loved ones. It’s very easy for seniors to experience feelings of stress, sadness, frustration, and anger for a while before feeling better.
However, more elderly adults than ever are experiencing true depression that interferes with their daily life. If you think your elderly parent may be suffering from depression, you must educate yourself, so you know how to help them.
What is Depression Like in Elderly Adults?
While depression can manifest differently in people, there are some common elements that you should be on the lookout for in your elderly parent. Symptoms of depression can also mimic other conditions, so it’s important to pay close attention. You’ll also want to ask other family members, friends, senior care providers, and others if they’ve noticed any symptoms.
Many depressed seniors feel tired and sleep too much or too little. They may express feelings of helplessness or guilt and are not able to eat, concentrate or enjoy their life. Elderly adults may complain of headaches or stomach aches, have trouble concentrating, gain or lose weight, and be more irritable when depressed.
Depression in seniors is a much bigger issue than occasionally feeling a bit down or blue.
It is a mental health issue that prevents a person from functioning normally. Elderly adults can’t get over it alone and need professional treatment to overcome it. All too often, seniors are not diagnosed or misdiagnosed and their depression goes untreated.
How to Help Seniors with Depression
If you believe that your loved one may have depression, you must plan for them to seek treatment. Most cases of depression in elderly adults is treatable with a combination of medication and therapy. Antidepressants are usually quite effective but may cause some side effects like sleepiness or nausea. Therapy works together with the antidepressants to help seniors learn new ways of thinking and behaving.
Making lifestyle changes can also help elderly adults with depression. Because the seniors are dependent on family caregivers and senior care providers, they will need help with a nutritious diet and age-appropriate exercise. Friends, family members and the senior care providers who also spend time with your elderly parent must understand what’s happening, so they can provide understanding and support.
Once your elderly mom or dad is diagnosed with clinical depression, you’ll be able to start them on a treatment plan that will help them regain a more positive emotional state.