Depression… we might all feel it at some point in our lives. The way we get through it is what’s important. We believe depression hits you differently when you’re older. Depression isn’t something we necessarily associate with aging, however, there are studies linking hospital stays and long-term care leading to higher levels of depression in seniors. We need to pay close attention to seniors once they are hospitalized or unable to care for themselves.

Depression isn’t always easy to notice, and it can be mistaken for short-term sadness. It is important to be able to understand the difference between the two and look for treatment options for your aging loved one.

First of all, aging brings its own struggles, such as:

  • Lost sense of purpose.
  • Financial insecurity.
  • Difficulty with everyday tasks.
  • Finding the right caregiver.
  • Access to proper healthcare.
  • Social insecurity.
  • Loss of loved ones.
  • Cognitive impairment such as Dementia.

All of these can lead to higher levels of stress, sadness, anxiety, and depression. Many aging adults learn to cope with these life challenges over time, but for others, it leads to feelings of loss and hopelessness, thus leading to depression.

Identifying depression in elderly adults can be extremely difficult at times. Symptoms can be disguised as side effects of drugs, unwillingness to voice their struggles, or even disguise themselves as having more of a physical problem than mental.  

Symptoms of depression in seniors don’t always appear the same as it does in a younger person. While most people who experience depression struggle with bouts of heightened anxiety and overwhelming sadness, it can present itself in different ways within elderly adults including:

  • Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Difficulty with attention.
  • Sudden anger and irritability.
  • Sleeping problems, such as insomnia or oversleeping.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Feeling or grief and sadness are inevitable throughout life, but it’s important to recognize the symptoms of depression in your aging loved one and seek treatment if/when signs of depression appear.  

If you suspect your aging loved one is experiencing depression it’s important to talk with a doctor about the signs you’ve noticed. Treatment can come in many forms, and a doctor can construct a plan going forward to help relieve those feelings of sadness, anxiety, and any other symptoms your aging family member may be experiencing.

After being diagnosed with depression the doctor will assess the severity and may prescribe medication and/or therapy. There are a wide array of antidepressants that can be prescribed with health conditions and possible side effects in mind. Physiotherapy can also play an intricate role in soothing the mind of a depressed loved one. This can help with the negative thinking that contributes to depression.

There are things you can do to help a loved one struggling with depression, such as:

  • Staying connected and keeping an open line of communication with your loved one. This will not only help them feel less isolated but also reassures them they have someone in their life that they can rely on emotionally.
  • Inviting them to activities. This provides an opportunity to get some physical activity and also gives them a chance to socialize.  

If you have loved ones that are going through depression and need a loving soul to be by them when you can’t, call us. This is part of what we do. We would love to assist you! Call Williams Loving Care at 334-549-4009.