Understanding Depression in Older Adults

Depression in Older Adults

Depression in older adults is not uncommon, but should be treated with the help of a physician.

Ah! The Golden Years! After years of working hard and raising a family, it’s nice to enjoy retirement and the flexibility to set your own schedule. There’s no question, growing older brings benefits: fewer restrictions on your time, the ability to pursue interests new and old, and increased time with loved ones, to name a few. However, aging can also bring unique challenges: chronic health conditions, the loss of close friends and family members, and for many seniors, depression.

In fact, studies show that more than seven million seniors over the age of 65 live with depression. And while depression in older adults may be prevalent, it is not a normal part of aging. Clinical depression is a medical condition that calls for medical treatment. It is not something that people can snap out of and it is more than just feeling sad or blue. Untreated depression can impact how seniors think, feel and handle daily activities. In addition, untreated depression puts seniors at increased risk for suicide, a growing concern in the older adult population.

Signs of Depression in Seniors

It’s important to know the signs of depression in seniors. While the severity of symptoms will vary with each individual, if a senior you love exhibits several of these for more than two weeks, he or she may have depression. Common signs include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Overeating or a decrease in appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Ongoing sad or anxious mood
  • Frequent crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

If you or a loved one has thoughts about self-harm, speak with someone who can help immediately and call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Treatment for Depression

The good news is that depression can be effectively treated. Start by making an appointment for the senior with his or her primary care physician. During the appointment, the doctor can review current medications and health conditions that may be contributing to feelings of depression, as well as rule out any other underlying, undiagnosed medical conditions. The most common forms of treatment for depression are:

  • Talk Therapy: One-on-one sessions with a therapist who is trained to help clients change negative thinking and behaviors that are common in individuals diagnosed with depression.
  • Medications: Antidepressants treat depression by helping to improve the ways in which the brain uses certain chemicals to control stress or mood.

Often, a physician will recommend that seniors try a combination of the two approaches. It’s important that the senior is regularly monitored by a physician, as each person requires a customized approach to overcoming depression.

At Visiting Care Giving Services, our experienced team of St. Charles caregivers is always available to help seniors remain engaged and active during their Golden Years. With our companion care services, we help alleviate isolation, a factor that contributes to depression, by providing reliable and friendly care, right in the comfort of home. Let us help with:

  • Engaging conversations, games, reminiscing, puzzles, and hobbies
  • Transportation to outings in the community or to medical appointments
  • Planning and scheduling social engagements
  • Light housekeeping and laundry services
  • Planning and preparing nutritious meals
  • Encouragement to engage in a physician-approved exercise program
  • Medication reminders
  • And much more

To learn more about how Visiting Care Giving Services’ compassionate and knowledgeable St. Charles caregivers can help a senior you love maintain an active lifestyle, give us a call today at (636) 493-9058 to set up a complimentary in-home consultation. To learn about each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.