When an elderly person experiences symptoms of depression, it should be taken seriously, and both medical care and life changes may need to occur. It is important to note that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression occurs in only about 1%-5% of the general elderly population. There are steps to take if you suspect that your elderly loved one is suffering from depression.
Be sensitive to the problem. Many people ignore when a senior claims to feel depressed. Be alert for the following symptoms of depression:
Encourage the senior to have a thorough check-up to rule out physical illnesses that may mimic or exacerbate signs or symptoms of depression. Both physical illnesses and depression are often overlooked in the geriatric population. During a physical, the physician can also perform a depression assessment to determine if the senior is experiencing depressive symptoms. Some questions may include: Are you feeling hopeless? Do you think about death? Do you no longer enjoy activities you previously enjoyed? Do you have problems sleeping? Do you have problems with your appetite? After performing the assessment, talking with the patient, and performing a physical examination, the physician can make recommendations concerning treatment for depression including the use of a medication, treatment by a therapist, or a combination of both.
The physician will also examine the patient for certain chronic illnesses that may worsen the symptoms of depression. They include:
Additionally, have the senior’s medications reviewed for possible side effects. Possible medications to review include:
After a diagnosis of either depression, be assured that there is treatment available for older adults. Consider the following:
It is important to remember that depression is not prevalent for seniors. If you suspect that an elderly loved one in your life is suffering from depression, make sure they receive a comprehensive physical including a mental health screening, and find ways to incorporate socialization and purpose. If you are worried about a senior in your life, Abramson Care Advisors can help you locate services. A senior care expert is available for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 215.371.3400.