Depression is a mental health condition that frequently occurs in older adults. However, that does not mean that depression is just a normal part of aging. It is a medical condition that can be treated. Because depression is common in seniors, it’s important that family caregivers are familiar with the condition and know how to spot it in their aging relatives.
What Causes Depression in Seniors?
Getting older comes with a lot of changes. Some of those changes can be difficult to deal with and may lead to depression. Some common causes of depression in seniors are:
- Health Issues: Many seniors have chronic medical conditions that are troublesome. They may have pain, difficulty getting around on their own, or cognitive problems that cause them to worry or impact how they feel about themselves.
- Losses: The loss of a spouse, relatives, and friends causes grief which may escalate to depression.
- Lack of Purpose: Sometimes older adults feel like their lives have little purpose now that their children are grown, and they’ve retired.
- Loneliness: Seniors may feel lonely because they are unable to get out of the house to see friends, or because of the loss of friends to death or moving away.
- Medications: Some drugs can cause depression as a side effect. Older adults may be particularly susceptible to these kinds of side effects.
Family caregivers should be especially vigilant for depression if any of the above are factors in their aging relative’s lives. It is important to closely monitor your loved one after the death of a friend or family member or when a health condition first occurs or when one gets worse.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Depression in older adults can be hard to spot because the symptoms may be different than those you might expect to see in younger people. Some symptoms of depression in seniors are:
- Changes in sleep habits, such as seeming tired frequently or an inability to sleep.
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities.
- Moving or speaking more slowly.
- Trouble with memory.
- Not taking care of themselves, such as poor personal hygiene or neglecting to take medications.
- Lack of energy.
- Persistent sadness, thoughts of death or suicide, or feeling worthless.
- Increased use of alcohol or misusing prescription medications, such as sleeping pills.
Family caregivers who notice any of these symptoms in their loved one should talk to the senior’s doctor about screening for depression. Treating depression may involve prescription medications and/or counseling.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Billings, MT, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today at 406-839-2390.