The Problem of Depression in the Elderly

Depression in older adults is a common problem and it shouldn’t be shrugged off. This is exactly where the problem lies – only around 10% of depression-stricken elderly get the right treatment. The proper diagnosis and treatment can be further complicated due to the fact that older adults tend to suffer from various physical and mental maladies. In order to grasp the full gravity of such a state, it’s crucial to have an open discussion about depression in older adults.

How Does It Begin?

It begins with glaring medical issues. Older people tend to have chronic health problems that can pile up over time. Living with these problems, which are often painful and debilitating, can put anyone in a foul mood and push them to spiral down into depression. Additionally, being handicapped or in other words – having lost the ability to enjoy or perform life-defining activities that can range from a job to hobbies – can plunge older individuals into even deeper depressive states.

What Are The Dangers?

The most obvious and glaring danger of such states is the loss of the will to live. This can be followed by a dreadful parade of additional illnesses while existing chronic conditions can deteriorate even faster. At the same time, the depression increases the risk of other diseases and it reduces the ability to recover from the existing ones. It’s a known fact that depression has also been associated with increased risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.

How To Approach It

If you’ve noticed any changes in behaviour and mood of your relative over the age of 65, there is a great possibility that they’re suffering from depression. These changes can be really subtle, so keep a lookout and be vigilant. More than 80% of the elderly won’t admit there’s anything mentally wrong with them; they usually chalk it all up to physical issues. Convincing them to visit a professional might take some time and patience on your part, but they’re bound to relent after a while – they’ll know there’s something wrong even if they won’t admit it to themselves.

Doctors are encouraged to screen their designated patients for depression from time to time. This has been turned into a routine in the twenty-first century, due to the fact that the statistics have shown depression with citizens over 65 is a major public health problem. These doctors will ask a series of standard questions and determine whether they should be referred to a psychiatrist.

How To Treat It

Psychotherapy and regular counselling are some of the most prevalent methods of treating depression. Additional treatments include medication, transcranial magnetic stimulation, or a combination of all of the above. As far as antidepressants go, doctor and the psychiatrist will weigh up whether they’re needed and how to deal with potential side effects. Additionally, antidepressants can take longer to start working with older people.

This will be a hard period for everyone and depressed older adults require at least some company to start feeling better, since the lack of socialization counts as one of the main causes of depression in the elderly. If the family doesn’t have time and personal assistance is required, hiring professionals via websites like InfoCare can be a relief to every party involved.

You’ll have to deal with the stigma elderly feel when it comes to mental illness. In this case, the psychiatrist is not enough – you and the entire family will have to band together and convince your parent or older relative the condition is something that happens often and they should be ashamed of nothing.

According to Jane Byrne, project coordinator in a nursing home in Kildare, “People tend to neglect their elderly parents and other family members because they often become increasingly difficult to deal with as they age. Older citizens of the world require as much care and devotion as any other human being.” If ubiquitous maladies such as depression are treated correctly and efficiently, the elderly can thrive as if they were in their prime.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in business and marketing related topics.

In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

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