Life transitions are not always easy. Aging adults experience many changes as they enter their senior years. Bodies change. Illness and injury set in easier. After retirement it may be difficult to find things to fulfill a need to be productive. Friends begin to pass on. There are a lot of new issues to deal with.
Of course there are still many wonderful things to look forward to, like more time with children and grandchildren or long awaited travel plans. However, without the right perspective, many individuals can head down a slippery slope. In fact, research shows that approximately 2 million seniors in the US have been diagnosed with depression. Nearly 50 percent of those in nursing homes or that are home bound demonstrate symptoms. The figure may be higher due to the number of seniors that are not seen by a primary care physician.
Depression in the elderly can often be ignored. Symptoms may be attributed to other diseases or seen as part of the normal aging process. They are not. The following are warning signs to look out for:
- Persistent sadness or anxiety
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Weight loss/gain due to reduced or increased appetite
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Getting too much or too little sleep; irregular sleep patterns
- Difficulty thinking or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If any of these symptoms are apparent in a loved one it is important to talk to them about it. Asking Mom or Dad if they are depressed won’t do the trick though. They may feel attacked or embarrassed. Instead, ask how they are feeling or if anything is bother them. Try to make the conversation as comfortable as possible so they will feel able to open up about their emotions. This is a time where it is important to be a good listener, without interruptions. Be reassuring.
With some help your loved one can begin to feel more like their old self again. Talking to their physician is a must. They can set up an assessment and decide upon the best method for treating depression. Treatment may include behavioral therapy and/or medications. Monitoring the use of medication is important. New Hampshire home health care professionals, like though as MAS Home Care, are available to assist seniors with this. Caregivers can also act as a friendly companion for those that are feeling depressed due to a sense of loneliness.
Depression is a serious issue that should not be ignored. If you have any concerns about a friend or family member, talk to them or contact someone who can help.