Senior Depression: How to Recognize Signs of Depression in Older Adults
Oct 10, 2019 by Comfort Keepers of Waco, TX
Today, depression has become an increasingly common mental health condition among people of all ages - both younger people and older people. However, it is the most common among older adults because they suffer from many different life events or changes and challenges throughout the aging process. This can include anything from losing control of their body, to grieving over the loss of family members and friends.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Identifying the signs that your loved one is suffering from depression is important to help both you and them cope with it. Depression isn’t an incurable mental illness, as long as you know what clues to look for in your loved ones. These are some of the warning signals associated with depression in seniors.
- Unexplained or aggravated aches and pain
- Weight loss
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies
- No motivation or energy and difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide, or occurred suicide attempts
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Problems sleeping (too little sleep, or sleeping too much)
- Skipping meals or loss of appetite
- Forgetting to take medications
- Neglecting personal hygiene or health regimens
Of course, some of these may be side effects to medications or other health problems. But if your loved one is showing multiple depressive symptoms or is worrying you, you should seek help for them from their healthcare provider.
Risk Factors for Depression in Elderly Persons
As our family members grow older, they often face significant life changes that can increase the risk of depression or major depression. These can include:
Health problems. Chronic illness and disability, severe pain, cognitive decline, and damage to the senior's body image due to sickness or surgery can all be contributors to depression. Also, a family history of medical illnesses can also increase the risk.
Social isolation and loneliness. Factors such as living alone, a diminishing social circle due to relocation or deaths, limited mobility due to illness or a loss of driving privileges can potentially trigger depression in seniors.
Recent bereavements. The death of friends, family members, and pets, or the loss of a spouse or partner are often tragic, common causes of depression in late-life.
Decreased sense of purpose. Along with retirement can come the loss of identity, self-confidence, status, financial security, and the feeling of worthlessness, which can increase the risk of depression. Physical limitations on activities seniors used to enjoy can also impact their sense of purpose.
Fears and anxiety. These can include a fear of death as well as anxiety over health issues or financial problems.
Some medical conditions can also further increase the risk of depression in old age. These can include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Thyroid disorders
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Substance abuse
Additionally, it's also important to note that there are also some medications that can cause or worsen depression in elderly patients, which can include blood pressure medicine, high-cholesterol drugs, heart drugs, and more.
Let Comfort Keepers® Waco Lend a Helping Hand
At Comfort Keepers Waco, we understand that you can’t always be there for your aging loved ones at all times of the day. That is where we come in. Our compassionate, professional in-home caregivers can help your family members stick to a daily routine and cope with depression and other mood disorders to provide them with an improved quality of life. From companionship to meal preparation, our Comfort Keepers® can become a normal part of your loved ones' routine and provide them with the essentials to live a healthy, happy, and independent life from the comfort of their own home.