5 Signs of Depression in the Elderly
Depression is a serious issue that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Unfortunately, the elderly population can be particularly vulnerable to this mental health issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 6 million adults over 60 in the United States suffer from some form of depression. Understanding and recognizing the symptoms of depression in seniors can help family members, caregivers, and medical professionals provide much-needed support. Here are five signs of depression in the elderly you should know about.
Loss of Interest or Pleasure
When an elderly individual is suffering from depression, they may become disinterested in activities that once brought them joy like hobbies or socializing with friends and family. They may also lose motivation to even complete basic day-to-day tasks such as getting dressed or brushing their teeth. It is important to remember that it isn’t just “old age” causing these changes — rather, it is a biological factor such as a chemical imbalance in the brain.
A person struggling with depression can feel exceptionally tired regardless of how much rest they get, and sleeplessness or frequent awakenings during the night can be common issues for someone with this condition. This extreme fatigue can cause them to lack the energy needed to take part in enjoyable activities or day-to-day tasks, further contributing to a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness over time without treatment.
Depression in elderly individuals can lead to problems with memory recall, difficulty concentrating and making decisions (known as “cognitive fog” by mental health professionals). If cognitive issues are noticed on their own, it is important to consider other potential causes such as depression rather than simply dismissing them as “forgetfulness” due to old age.
Loss of Appetite & Weight Loss
Individuals suffering from depression often have changes in their eating habits, which can lead to weight loss if left untreated for too long — whether that be a total lack of interest in food or reduced consumption even when feeling hungry due to a lack of motivation caused by the condition.
Feeling overwhelmingly hopeless, having thoughts related to suicide, and expressing these feelings verbally are clear warning signs that an individual may be dealing with clinical depression and requires immediate professional help from a psychologist who specializes in geriatric mental health treatment.
Moving to a Senior Living Facility
Moving an elderly individual from their own home to a senior living facility can be beneficial for the person and their family in many ways, including providing social activities they may not have had access to before. Senior living facilities typically offer numerous opportunities for socializing and interacting with other residents, allowing those suffering from depression a chance to meet new people and take part in enjoyable activities that help boost their mood. Schedule a tour at Pathway in Washington Court House to learn more.
If a senior is unwilling to consider moving despite other benefits, it could be a sign of depression that should be addressed with professional help.