Elderly depression is often talked about, but seldom acted upon. Many believe that depression is “all in their head,” but it has as many (if not more) physiological and physical consequences. In fact, more and more studies are revealing that the cause of physical illnesses are the result of stress, anxiety and depression.
For instance, when a person is diagnosed with something dire, it’s not wishy-washy for doctors to say, “Keep a positive attitude,” it’s a genuine prescription. Keeping a positive mindset is crucial to healthy living and it’s been proven to speed recovery, whether it’s from surgery, a broken bone, or even a disquieting diagnosis; happier people live longer.
But staying happy is easier said than done when you consider our elders. As we age, our bodies become more fragile; no matter how much muscle mass we have, our bones become more porous. Getting even older means close friends start to pass on, our health becomes a primary concern and the looming fear of being stuffed in a nursing home (if you prove to be a burden) lingers.
Many elders suffer depression, accounting for 16% of all suicides (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Worse, feelings of persistent sadness triple for elders who move into nursing homes and it’s estimated that 90% aren’t receiving adequate care. Elderly depression is far more common and severe than most people realize. So watch for the warning signs to protect your loved one.
1. Recent Loss
Whether it’s the loss of a friend, a pet, or spouse, it’s important to be alert. Grieving is never easy, but it’s even more challenging for elders, who are not so quick to make new friends in their later years. Elderly married couples are also more likely to pass within a year of each other.
2. Recent Medical Visit
Many suicides coincide with the day of a doctor’s appointment – especially if they’re diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Even if your elder’s condition is terminal, be there for them. Support them and help them to achieve everything they want to. If they live far away, you should call daily.
3. Increased Isolation
While the first two may be easy to know, there are more subtle signs that your elder is suffering depression, for instance, increased isolation. If your elder used to go dancing or to baseball games, and suddenly stops or expresses no interest, then something is wrong.
4. Less Self-Regard
When elders stop trying to dress nice or make an effort on their appearance. When your elderly mother starts growing whiskers despite having full-range of motion to shave, then something is wrong. It’s a lack of self-regard that comes from elderly depression.
My Elder Suffers Depression, What Can I Do?
The best cure is therapy. Having someone to socialize and speak honestly with. Many people who are depressed are prescribed medications, but if they’re depressed there’s no guarantee they’ll take the drugs let alone that they’ll make a difference. Therapy comes in many forms and often times gets elders involved in a group.