Getting old can be tough. Many elderly people have outlived their families, their spouse, and sometimes even their children, leading some people to feel lonely and sad. People over age 65 are also more likely to suffer from side effects of multiple illnesses and the medications used to treat them. Because of these factors of aging and others, many people just assume depression is a normal state of mind for the elderly. In fact, a survey by Mental Health America found that 58 percent of people aged 65 and older think it is normal for people to get depressed as they get older. And while it might be normal to feel sad, anxious or alone sometimes, clinical depression is not a normal state of being for the elderly. It is a mental illness that should be addressed, with therapy and/or medications.
Many of the symptoms of depression for the elderly are similar to that of the general population, but there are a few that are different. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression so you can help your loved one seek help if needed.
- Memory problems
- Vague complaint of pain
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Not being able to concentrate
- Feeling sad or “empty”
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
If you are worried that a loved one is suffering from depression, there are ways you can help. Invite him out for walks and other activities. When you visit, take time to talk with them, offer support and listen to their concerns carefully. It is also important to seek help from a doctor or counselor. There are many good medications that can be helpful in treating depression, and counseling sessions are a good way to help provide an outlet as well as give coping techniques. If you’re already working with one of our caregivers from Piedmont Home Health, you should share your concerns with them as well, and together you can find the right type of treatment for your loved one.
It’s especially important to be aware of the signs of depression during the holiday season. That time of year is hyped up to be one of joy and happiness through the media and retail industry, but for many people it is a lonely time full of grief and sorrow. With your help, and the help of qualified caregivers from Piedmont Home Health, we can help our elderly friends find relief from the grip of depression.