When you think of your senior mom or dad, you may not use the word depressed or sad to describe them. However, tons of seniors become depressed due to the enormous amount of isolation they go through. Alarmingly, depression among seniors is often misdiagnosed. An agitated senior may be seen as grumpy. Appetite loss may be seen as a result of aging. Because seniors are nearing the end of their life, worrying about death may be seen as normal.
It’s normal to feel sad about becoming older since we all want to be younger. Senior isolation and depression are very real, and you need to understand the warning signs of depression.
Even if a senior has in-home care helping them around the house, they can still become depressed. In-home care can be one of the best day-to-day companions a senior can have, but they are not a magical cure for depression and isolation.
Some depressive symptoms are also personality features or the physical repercussions of aging. As a result, depression diagnoses are seldom made and are instead attributed to aging. This is problematic since depression in the elderly is common, often goes unnoticed and untreated, and may have catastrophic implications. Depression is not a natural part of aging, so recognizing the warning signals is critical if your parent begins to exhibit symptoms.
Understanding Why Seniors Become Depressed
So, what makes seniors vulnerable to depression? Aging brains may not get the same amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals (such as serotonin) that they previously did, and there may be a relationship between dementia and depression. Chronic pain is difficult for seniors, and some medical problems, such as heart disease and cancer, may raise the risk of depression. Furthermore, certain seniors may be prone to depression genetically.
Your senior may have also had to deal with more traumatic life events that you have been unaware of. As they get older, they have more time to think about what has occurred in the past. All of this, plus all of the physical changes that are occurring simultaneously, can lead to depression.
Depression is categorized as a medical problem because it can have a big impact on a patient’s well-being. In older people, these effects are even more negative. Depression can make the pain and aches from other illnesses worse, and it can take longer to get better (if it occurs at all). Senior who are depressed may also have an increased rate of suicides which can be terrifying for any family member. Here are a few warning signs to look for.
- Insomnia- There is a good chance that a senior who can’t sleep at night or wake up too early on a regular basis is depressed.
- Irritability- All seniors can get cranky just like everyone else. However, too much irritability can be a sign of something more.
- Social Withdraw- Active, engaged seniors usually don’t stay away from friends and family for a long time unless they’re depressed or something else is going on.
- Worsening Pains- Pain can get much worse when a senior is suffering from depression. If your senior parent keeps complaining about pain becoming worse.