Depression is a condition that should not be ignored, and is one that is often harder to recognize in seniors. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), “Depression is more than just feeling sad or blue. It is a common but serious mood disorder that needs treatment. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, and working.”
One reason depression may be harder to recognize in seniors is because sadness may not be their main symptom. In addition, they may not be open about their feelings and/or they may have less obvious symptoms. While some of the more common symptoms of depression may be somewhat apparent (feelings of sadness and hopelessness, changes in appetite, thoughts of death or suicide, and difficulty concentrating), some seniors who have depression may experience the following not-so-obvious symptoms.
• Tiredness – Feeling tired can be a sign of depression in older adults. If, after a good night’s rest, your loved one doesn’t have the energy to get out of bed and start their day, and you notice this becoming a reoccurring behavior, this can be a sign of depression.
• Personal Hygiene – One sign that your senior loved one may be depressed is if they begin to care less about their appearance and personal hygiene. If your loved one used to dress a certain way, fix their hair, bathe regularly, or put on makeup, and they stopped following these normal routines, it may be a sign of depression.
• Grumpy or Irritable – Another sign that your senior loved one may be depressed is if they seem grumpy or irritable. Have they been short-tempered lately? Is it out of their usual character to act this way? If so, your loved one may be experiencing depression.
• Medical Conditions – Many older adults and seniors deal with a number of medical conditions, such as heart disease, chronic arthritis, or Parkinson’s disease, and these conditions can contribute to someone becoming depressed. It’s not an easy task to live with chronic pain or recover from a stroke, and support during these times and with these specific conditions can be helpful in alleviating feelings of depression and isolation.
• Side Effects – Many seniors have medical conditions that are treated by taking medications, and medications usually have a list of side effects that can include depression. Knowing what medications your loved one is taking and their side effects can be an important way to stay alert and help you recognize if your loved one is experiencing one or more of these side effects.
Depression can be common in seniors, but it’s not a normal feeling. If you are around your loved one and notice some of these symptoms, we recommend that you talk to them and consult with their doctor. There are numerous ways depression can be treated – from medication to support groups to lifestyle changes – which is why it’s so important to recognize depression so it can be treated before becoming worse.
If you are having feelings of depression, call your doctor, tell a family member or friend, do not isolate yourself, and know that you can call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK at any time.
For many seniors, loneliness and a lack of social interactions are reasons for considering a move to a personal care or retirement community. Do you have questions about Concordia or are interested in how we can help you and your loved one? If so, please contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or, visit the care levels & services page of our website to learn about the types of care we offer, including In-Home Care, Memory Care, Long-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day Services, Hospice Care and more.
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