As a serious mental health issue in the elderly, millions of Americans aged 65+ live with depression. Malnutrition, social isolation, and other health problems are more common in seniors who are chronically depressed. For aging-in-place seniors, chronic depression poses a serious threat to their quality of life and independence. If there’s an elderly loved one in your life who may be suffering from depression, here are some key warning signs to watch out for.
Why Do Seniors Get Depressed?
Although it’s common in older adults, depression in that age group often gets misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. In general, these are the most common causes or contributing factors of depression in the elderly:
- Death of a spouse, friend, or other close loved one
- Chronic health problems
- Boredom brought on by retirement
- Side effects, including depression, caused by certain prescription medications
What to Watch for
As an informal caregiver be sure to monitor your aging loved one for these depression warning signs:
Although it’s natural to experience grief after losing a close loved one, when the grieving process lasts for an extended period of time it could indicate chronic depression. If your senior’s grief continues for more than one year, it may take intervention from a healthcare professional for them to recover.
If you notice that your aging loved one isn’t socializing with friends like they used to, they might be depressed. Routinely making excuses for not attending family events is another sign of elder depression.
If your senior’s once robust appetite isn’t what it used to be, they may be chronically depressed. Watch for telltale signs that they aren’t eating right, such as rapid weight loss, a gaunt appearance, loose-fitting clothes, or an empty fridge. Because factors other than depression must be ruled out first, take them to a doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made.
Elevated pain level
As the average person ages, achy muscles and joints are an everyday occurrence. But if your loved one is complaining more than usual about their aches and pains, it might be an indication that they are depressed rather than just old. And although the pain is real, the elevated level could be the result of their mental state more than the physical.
Chronic health conditions, not seeing one’s family as much, and having more free time on their hands can all make a senior cranky. But when your loved one was once a happy, content person, a sudden change in behavior could be a red flag for depression. If their irritable state persists for more than two weeks, respectfully ask them what’s wrong.
Once a Diagnosis is Made
Over the past year, COVID-19 social distancing requirements have fueled depression triggers like loneliness, inactivity, and social isolation as seniors spend more time alone at home. If you suspect that your aging loved one is at risk, watch their behavior and appearance.
Once your loved one has been diagnosed with depression, their doctor may recommend one or more of these treatment options:
- Healthy lifestyle adjustments
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Anti-depressant medications
What You Can Do to Help
For seniors living with depression, the road to recovery is filled with potholes that will take time to overcome. As a concerned friend or family member, be sure to give your loved one the support and encouragement they need. If you’re not able to spend enough time with them, a professional in-home caregiver can provide much-needed companionship that will restore everyone’s peace of mind when you’re not there.
Quality In-Home Companionship Care for Seniors in South Florida
Providing companionship to an aging-in-place loved one isn’t easy when you can’t always be there. When you need a hand, contact the compassionate caregivers from Dependable Senior Care. As a fully licensed and insured agency, our skilled professionals are well-trained and carefully selected. We provide personalized services that are available 7 days a week, ranging from a few hours per day to 24-hour and live-in care.
DSC is locally owned and operated by healthcare professionals with 80+ years of combined experience. Our goal is providing in-home daily living assistance services that support seniors and their families in South Florida. In addition to companionship care, those services include personal care, respite care, nursing assistance, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care. To contact a Dependable Senior Care office in Palm Beach, Miami Dade, or Broward County today, or schedule a consultation for a senior now, please visit www.dependableseniorcare.com!