Many Canadians of all ages are living with depression. The cause may be a chemical imbalance in the brain, or it could be situational as a reaction to something that happened or is happening in life. Either way, living with depression can really impact all aspects of your life. There is a myth that depression is normal as people age, but while episodes of depression are more frequent with age, depression is never normal. Here is what you need to know about depression in seniors and how you can help if you know someone living with depression.
What causes depression in seniors?
As people age, there may be a number of significant life events that can trigger depression in some people. During senior years, people might experience a loss of a spouse or close friends. They might also be living with major medical conditions that may have lasting and ongoing long-term effects. Or, it may be downsizing the home they have lived in for years and moving into an apartment or assisted living facility.
Why is it more of a concern in seniors?
If depression is not treated or addressed, it may last for a long time. In seniors, depression is much more likely to go undiagnosed, especially if they spend a lot of time alone or do not have consistent visitors in their life.
Additionally, living with depression can make other medical conditions much worse. Seniors typically start to see a decline in their health in later years making them more susceptible to injuries and afflictions. Unfortunately, while depression has a negative impact on overall health, it can also make the symptoms of various health conditions worse.
What are the symptoms?
Sometimes, the symptoms of depression in seniors go unnoticed because they can appear to be symptoms of other medical conditions. If you are concerned about your loved one being depressed, look for the following symptoms:
- Decreased appetite or complete loss of appetite
- Not wanting to see friends and family or participate in activities they used to love doing
- Not sleeping well
- Feeling confused or forgetting things
Since these symptoms – especially being confused or forgetful – are often associated with general signs of ageing, depression in seniors can be missed or overlooked.
How do you diagnose depression?
The only way to diagnose depression is by having an assessment done by a qualified doctor. A doctor may perform a physical exam, or other tests, to determine if your loved one is depressed.
How can depression in seniors be treated?
Depending on the cause, depression may be treated differently and may involve lifestyle changes, therapy, or special medications. If your loved one needs to take medication, it is important that they follow the instructions and take the medication regularly, as prescribed, to be effective.
Many senior adults will forget to take their medications or take them infrequently. This may not only reduce the effectiveness of the medications but may also result in some unwanted effects. As their family member, you may need to help them and remind them that they need to take it.
Contact VERA Home Care today
Do you have a loved one who could use some companionship and care and may need help with medication reminders and doing the things they enjoy? If so, Vera Home Care can help.