Depression affects people of all ages, but there is one group of people that often gets overlooked for depression, and that is the elderly. This is because symptoms of depression are sometimes missed or confused with the effects of other illnesses or medication they are using, or simply part of their aging process.
Elder depression is a major public health problem. Doctors aren’t catching it, and often seniors ignore or even hide their condition, so it gets worse and worse. The problem is, depression can have frightening consequences if not addressed. Seniors may stop taking their needed medications such as insulin or heart medication, and depression can double the risk of cardiac disease as well as increase the risk of developing other serious health conditions.
If you feel that your loved one may be suffering from depression, some warning signs to look for include irritability, loss of self regard, social withdrawal, increased pain, or if they have recently had a major health issue or lost a loved one.
It is important to get help, but be tactful and supportive. Options include medication, exercise, and therapy. Another good option may be looking into senior living options, where they will have increased social interaction and much more support than if they live alone. Encourage them to make new friends and attend activities.
No matter which option you choose, make sure to support your loved one throughout the process of getting help, they need you now more than ever!