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  • Writer's pictureHaley Burress

Depression in Seniors

Now that the holiday season has passed, it is common for some of us to feel a bit of the post-holiday blues. This can be especially true for older adults thrilled to have extended family members visiting, a busy social calendar full of events and gatherings, and a little extra TLC from neighbors. January can feel a little more lonely for older adults who might be missing all the extra action.

However, how can you determine when your loved one’s post-holiday blues might actually be depression? Unfortunately, depression is commonly underdiagnosed in older adults, which means treatment often begins late if at all. Here’s what you need to know about depression and seniors.

Prevalence of Depression in Seniors

While it is important to note that depression is NOT simply a part of aging, depression does affect older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as much as 13% of adults over the age of 65 are depressed. However, that number is likely higher because older adults are not good reporters of their own mental health challenges.

Seniors are more likely to experience depression than their younger peers due to an increased risk of:

  • Losing friends, family members, and other relationships

  • Losing independence and mobility

  • Living with at least one chronic health condition

  • Living with pain

elderly woman painting

What Depression Might Look Like in Your Older Loved One

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is a mental health condition that can affect all parts of daily life. If you’re wondering if your loved one might be depressed, look for signs and symptoms that can include:

  • Irritability and restlessness

  • Having a “short fuse” and getting angry more than usual

  • Periods of crying or tearfulness

  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Changes in appetite, whether eating more than usual or less

  • Chronic pain throughout the body

  • Withdrawing from favorite events or family functions

  • Becoming more sedentary, spending less time being active

  • Fatigue

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

What You Can Do

If you notice signs of depression in your loved one, don’t wait it out to see if it gets better. Instead, make an appointment to speak with their physician about what you are observing. Your loved one’s physician can perform a depression screening with your loved one to determine if they need treatment. Remember, many older adults do not report their mental health conditions or challenges, which means they don’t always get the treatment they deserve.

Treatment for depression in seniors is similar to treatment for depression in other adults. When possible, physicians often recommend a medication combined with psychotherapy or talk therapy with a counselor. You can help your loved one find a counselor who has experience working with older adults, as well as ensure your loved one has their medication refilled and is taking it as prescribed.

Most importantly, support your loved one as they are undergoing treatment. This might mean checking in more often in person or on the phone, scheduling times for them to get out with friends, and simply listening to them when they would like to talk. Always take any concerns you have to their physician.

Senior Living Communities

For older adults living with depression, connecting with peers and developing friendships can be an important step in their mental health treatment plan. Senior living communities can be a wonderful solution, offering friendly neighbors, vibrant activities, and caregiver support around the clock.

If you believe that senior living might be the next best step for your loved one, don’t start the research and selection process on your own. The team at iNavigate is here to help you find the right senior living community, and our services are free to you. Contact us to schedule an assessment.

©2024, iNavigate Senior Living Solutions, All Rights Reserved.


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