Like many other illnesses, depression frequently presents differently in the elderly compared to younger people. It’s a common assumption that depression in your elderly relative would be simple to identify. Sadly, this is not the case. Medical professionals, family members, and elderly individuals themselves frequently fail to recognize depression. Several prescription medications and medical conditions can cause depression or operate in a manner that mimics it. For this reason, if you are worried about depression in an elderly relative, they should get assessed and treated, no matter how mild the case.

There are a variety of factors that could prevent the elderly and those closest to them from recognizing depression. Many older folks think that their emotions are normal or that they have a valid reason for feeling down. They may complain of fatigue and blame their problems on becoming older and so might not be aware that some of their physical symptoms could be depression related. The elderly are often reluctant to express their emotions, ask questions or seek help.

Social Isolation

If your elderly relative seems to have lost their sense of meaning and purpose and is socially isolated, they could be at risk for developing depression. This can be caused by a lack of regular engagement and meaningful involvement with others. Social connections are important at any age, but perhaps more so as you age. There are numerous ways to reduce this risk. Encourage your relative to leave the house: visit a museum or attend a concert. Elderly folk who volunteer find themselves in a great position to avoid depression as they are interacting with like-minded people while helping others.

Having a pet to care for is a wonderful means of avoiding depression. Pets provide not only companionship but also opportunities to meet new people and get regular exercise. Many people worry that when they move to assisted living centers like Monarch Communities, they may need to leave their cherished pets behind. This is no longer the case as many facilities realize the value a pet adds to one’s quality of life.

Change of Appetite or Weight

Unforeseen weight loss or gain and eating less or more than normal can be further signs of depression in the elderly. Elderly relatives can be encouraged to reduce the symptoms of depression by changing their diet. The elderly should focus on eating high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats rather than sugar and refined carbs. They should also try to eat something every three to four hours to avoid feeling tired and boost their mood.

Suicidal Expressions

Suicide risk is significantly increased by depression, particularly among older white men. Suicide incidence in adults over 65 is said to be more than double that of the overall population. It goes without saying that if someone (of any age) has persistent suicidal thoughts or attempts, they should be evaluated by a doctor immediately. Asking someone whether they are considering suicide won’t increase their likelihood of doing so. Your inquiries might motivate them to get treatment by allowing them to talk more openly about how they’ve been feeling.

Depression, unfortunately, interferes with a person’s ability to seek help. It can be even harder for senior citizens who were raised in an era when mental illness was heavily stigmatized and misunderstood, especially if they don’t think depression is a legitimate illness, are too proud or humiliated to ask for help or worry about burdening their relatives. You can help an elderly relative by recognizing these signs and providing emotional support. Then, ensure that they receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

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