It’s estimated that depression will affect 6 million Americans who are 65 years and older. Unfortunately, only 10% will receive treatment. The reason behind this startling statistic is that signs of depression are often displayed differently in older adults.
Older adults often normalize their depression as a part of aging. There are five major signs of depression in older adults: health problems, loneliness and isolation, reduced sense of purpose, fears, and recent bereavements. By being able to identify these, you’ll be able to better assist your loved ones who may be dealing with depression.
Depression in older adults is commonly accompanied by health conditions and is, therefore, overlooked. What seniors may not realize is medical problems can sometimes cause depression:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Heart Disease
- Thyroid disorders
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Loneliness and Isolation
Loneliness goes beyond empty-nest syndrome for older adults. It can result from life-changing factors like not being able to drive anymore. Missing out on weekly activities such as church or meeting with friends can lead to isolation, which in turn can lead to depression.
Reduced Sense of Purpose
Retirement is bittersweet for many seniors. Our careers often define the majority of our lives, so no longer working can make a lot of older adults feel lost. When an individual can no longer identify the purpose of their life, they may fall into depression.
The stereotype that it’s normal for older adults to be easily frightened is false. An unyielding fear of death and preoccupation of ways to die is not healthy. It can lead to thoughts of suicide, another sign of depression.
Getting older often means coping with the deaths of your loved ones. While grief is different from depression, chronic depression often follows the normal grieving process.
Depression requires a diagnosis and treatment from a health professional. Caregivers can often assist older adults to feel independent and renew their sense of purpose. Whether it be assisting with daily chores or simply being around to play cards, the presence of a caregiver can often improve an older adult’s quality of life. Contact Cypress HomeCare today to see how we can assist.