Clinical depression with the elderly population is quite common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Depression effects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older. However, only 10% receive treatment for it. Depression, by definition, is a prolonged state of sadness that is different from grieving and can last a very long time. In this post, we will help you to understand if you or an elder you know has depression. It can sometimes be difficult to determine this, as many aging diseases or other aging traits can be perceived as symptoms of depression. The good news is that you can take steps to help reduce the stressors in the senior’s life or get them professional assistance to help them feel better.

Some Common Symptoms of Depression Include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Restlessness/IrritabilityInsomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or ’empty’ feelings

What can you do to help?

Sometimes people like to talk about their feelings, but often, discussing it only makes it worse and can cause anger. If you know the person well enough that they like to openly express their feelings, you can subtly ask them if there is anything that they would like to talk about or that has been bothering them. To not be persistent or aggressive, if they want to talk they will when they are ready.

If they’re able to, doing light exercises like water aerobics can also do a great deal of good. If the depression is more serous and your loved one denies the opportunity to do any activities because he or she no longer finds them enjoyable, you should contact a medical professional. Their extensive experience in having elderly patients with depression gives them expertise and the elder’s doctor may know private information about their health that could be linked to the depression.

Family and loved ones can have a profound effect on an elder’s care. Encourage treatment and offer support to help your loved one live a full, happy life.