Depression and the elderly

Depression is not normal at any age and is not a normal part of the aging process.

Depression is not just a feeling of being down. Everyone feels this was from time to time – depression is more pervasive and doesn’t go away. Depression affects our emotions, behavior and affects the way we think. Depression also can affect our physical health. There might be a general sense of not feeling healthy. Also things that we might have enjoyed before we no longer find interesting. The elderly have a number of factors that can exacerbate this feeling. Since the senior is no longer working, becoming less mobile and more dependent on others they are more likely to be affected by depression as they become more isolated. The elderly will likely have friends and relatives that pass away which creates a sense of loss.

These are some very obvious things that a good caregiver should look out for when working with the senior. There might be feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, withdrawal, loss of appetite, lack of hygiene. It is sometimes hard for loved ones or even the medical professional to recognize depression. They possibly might be looking for medical reasons for certain symptoms, for example, weight loss.

A family that is faced with a senior that is depressed should first seek assistance with the primary care physician and from there the family can can look at therapy and/or medication. Both of which can be very effective. Another option is to get a caregiver from an agency such a Thrive at Home. This can be very helpful too. Not only can the caregiver be an objective observer of the loved ones’ health but can also provide the very necessary non-medical aspects of depression prevention including companionship. Just having another person around can go a long way to stem the felling of being isolated and lonely.  The caregiver could and should make sure that the person is getting regular exercise and eating healthy, appealing and nutritious meals.