Help Depressed Seniors

Depression can occur in people of any age, but to help depressed seniors, it is important to understand the factors contributing to the condition. It is also vital to know and recognize the signs of depression in seniors. Only by comprehending the causes and noticing the outward signs can you help the elders you love cope with and overcome depression.

So what causes depression in seniors? There can be any number of contributors. Sometimes, it is simply a change in the brain chemicals that occur during the aging process. Suffering from an illness, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, can also lead to depressed feelings. If the time has come to transition from independent living to an assisted living facility or nursing home, the loss of autonomy can lead to sadness and mood changes.

There are a number of causes that can lead to depression in seniors, and even if it is not possible to identify the actual source, it is possible to see the outwardly displayed signs in someone battling depression.

Here are some of the most commonly seen signs of depression.

  • An unusual level of tiredness or lethargy
  • A reduction in appetite
  • Crying
  • High levels of sadness, anxiety or irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Physical pains that persist—aches, cramps, general discomfort
  • Unusual sleep patterns
  • A lack of interest in things that once were engaging and enjoyable

Caregivers can help depressed seniors by recognizing these symptoms early and striving to locate assistance. If the elderly person suffering from depression lives by themselves, it becomes more of a danger that the illness will progress into something more serious.

Speaking about depression can be difficult, and many people suffering from depression never seek help because of feeling embarrassed or weak. It is important that you find professional help for seniors suffering with depression.

It is likely that a senior citizen will already have a personal doctor, and this can be one of the easiest, least pressure filled places to begin looking for help. The doctor will have medical records, an established rapport and he or she will be able to assess whether or not the depression is stemming from an underlying physical ailment. Also, physicians have the ability to prescribe mood-altering medications—commonly used to treat depression, anxiety and similar illnesses. A family doctor would be able to refer the patient to a specialist if needed.

Therapy is another common way to treat depression. A licensed therapist will have seen other cases of depression and will be able to offer tools to help. Oftentimes, therapy is covered by your insurance, but check with your provider and the insurance specialist at the therapy facility before scheduling sessions.

Depression hurts not only the sufferer, it affects family and friends. It can become debilitating if not treated. If you want to help depressed seniors, be there. Listen, be willing to talk through issues and be proactive in finding sources of help.

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