Depression is unfortunately really common for aging adults, especially under certain circumstances. If your elderly family member has been spending a lot of time alone, she may have become too isolated. There are other causes, though, including loss, other health issues, and feeling out of control of her life right now. Talk to your elderly family member about how she’s feeling and what you’re noticing.
Insomnia, Lack of Appetite, and a Sense of Hopelessness
Some of the most common signs of depression in older adults can include changes in appetite and sleeping patterns. Your senior might tell you she just doesn’t feel hungry or that she hasn’t been sleeping as well as usual. Probe a little more deeply into those statements to try to find the bigger picture. If your senior expresses feelings of hopelessness, contact her doctor right away.
Just Being Sad Isn’t Necessarily Depression
It’s important to note that in people of all ages, depression and being sad aren’t necessarily the same thing. Your elderly family member can be sad about something, even for a few days or weeks, and not necessarily be depressed. If her physical well-being is impacted by how she’s feeling, that’s more of an indication that she might be depressed.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Is a Special Kind of Depression
Certain times of the year, particularly fall and winter, may be a time when your senior faces something called SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. This is a particular type of depression linked to the fact that there’s less sunlight available during those times of year. Your senior may have lower than normal vitamin D levels, and light therapy might help.
Check for Health Issues with Her Doctor
There may be more going on, too. Your senior may be dealing with heart disease, high blood sugar, or any number of other physical ailments. These can lead to depression if those underlying health issues aren’t addressed. Often treating those issues can help your senior to get rid of the depression, but not always. Talk to your elderly family member’s doctor about what she’s experiencing and what therapies might work for her.
If you’re not able to be with your senior as much as you would like, it might be a good idea to hire elderly care providers. They can help you to watch for signs that your senior might be depressed and they can alert you quickly to what’s happening.