Late Life Depression
Depression is not a normal part of aging. However, it is common for older adults to experience depression, which confuses people into thinking it is normal. Roughly 6 million Americans aged 65 and older are affected by depression, but only 10% receive treatment.
If you’re concerned about your loved one, it’s important to speak with a medical professional such as your loved one’s primary care doctor, or a psychologist or psychiatrist. Other possible causes for your parent’s behavior can be ruled out. As scary as it is to receive a diagnosis of late-life depression, this condition is treatable.
Signs of Depression in Older Adults
It’s not always easy to recognize depression in older adults. Naturally, this age group is faced with more aches and pains, increased fatigue and difficulty sleeping. They may also be more isolated from others because of decreased mobility.
Also, many older adults with depression say that they don’t feel sad as we may expect. Instead, symptoms like low motivation, fatigue and physical problems are most prevalent. Bottom line: Take your loved one to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
Here are common signs of depression in seniors:
- Lack of motivation or energy
- Undiagnosed aches and pains
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Neglecting personal care
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Thoughts of dying
- Memory problems
- Sadness or despair
- Sleep disturbances
- Social withdrawal
How is Late-Life Depression Treated?
Depression is treatable, even in later life. Typically, doctors recommend medication (antidepressants) and counseling. It’s also possible that newer forms of brain stimulation will also be recommended, such as electrical stimulation therapy. Other lifestyle changes that are recommended to manage symptoms are:
- Seek out face-to-face interaction
- Join a depression support group
- Volunteer your time - could be anything, such as knitting hats for babies in the NICU
- Take care of a pet
- Learn a new skill or start a new hobby
- Exercise for 30 minutes a day
- Minimize sugars and refined carbs
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get enough rest each night
- Spend time outdoors
Doctor’s Choice offers a Behavioral Health Program designed for seniors with depression and other conditions. Call us to learn more about the program. If your loved one qualifies, they may be eligible for one-on-one care, medication management, self-care training and coping skills.