Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression 
It is a completely appropriate and normal response to feel sadness from any adjustment in life, such as weight changes, limited mobility, aches and pains and other circumstances that can be associated with aging. Fluctuating emotions are a part of life and being human. It is when that sadness is overwhelming, persistent and impacting quality of life that there is major cause for concern. Contrary to what many people believe, depression is not an inevitable part of aging, and one should never feel powerless if they believe they suffer from depression.
 It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans older than 65 years old suffer from this diagnosable, treatable mental illness, with a large majority of those individuals not receiving adequate-enough treatment or care, if at all. From those who only recently retired or are living in retirement communities to those receiving elderly home care, no one is completely exempt from this illness that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.  

Why is it Hard to Detect?
As depression is a mental disorder, it can easily and often go undetected by family, friends, health providers and even the individual grappling with the illness. One reason that it often goes under the radar is because experiencing sadness, hardship and loneliness is something everyone undergoes at some point in their lives. This can make it hard for someone to distinguish “normal” human emotion from a more serious issue that needs medical attention. 
Another reason depression is hard to pinpoint may be because of the stigma that still surrounds the illness. This may explain why so many people, senior citizens included, fail to admit they suffer from a mental disorder that can be addressed and treated. Not to mention, seniors may often have less resources, limited mobility and smaller support networks that make it hard to reach out when they need guidance and support on how to deal with and manage their depression.
Depression and Other Health Issues 
Symptoms of depression in seniors can be physical, such as aches and muscle weakness, as well as cognitive, like illogical reasoning and forgetfulness. Not only can these be mistaken simply for signs of aging, but they also often are not symptoms that younger people with depression experience. Since depression in young ages is better understood and more readily recognized, people may not even realize that the symptoms an elder is exhibiting are indications that depression is present. 
Oftentimes, depression co-occurs with other health problems, making it even harder for health providers to diagnose. For instance, seniors with depression are at higher risks for cardiac diseases and death from other illnesses. This only goes to show that it is essential that depression be diagnosed and treated, as it correlates with lower quality of life, shorter average lifespans and risk of suicide. 
Symptoms of Depression
A senior who is suffering from depression may exhibit different symptoms from another person experiencing the very same mental illness. While it’s important to note that depression can manifest in many forms, you can gain a better understanding of it by considering these common symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or restlessness
  • Persistent, severe pain
  • Poor body- and self-image
  • Delayed thinking and forgetfulness
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Digestive problems and cramps 
  • Consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or apathy
  • Feelings of social isolation 
If any or all of these ring true for you or a loved one, consult with a doctor who can get to the underlying cause of these symptoms and give you the peace of mind and answers you seek.  

Common Treatments for Depression
When it comes to treating depression, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What may work wonders for one person may not be as effective for another. That is why it is important to do your research to find the right treatment methods that will work for your circumstance or your loved one’s unique circumstance. Some of the more common treatment options include:Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced.
  • Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced. 
  • Counseling–Speaking with a therapist is another popular route people take. Therapy gives people the opportunity to voice what’s on their mind, hopefully feeling peace by talking through their problems and stressors in the process. 
  • Psychotherapy–If the potential for side effects from new medication is too great or risky, psychotherapy is a popular alternative. This is a common option often used for those who deal with intense stressors from their pasts.

In Addition to Treatment
Because of the nature of old age, many seniors suffer from loneliness and feel cut off from past enjoyments, resources and people they can rely on. While not to be considered a cure or treatment for depression, having an elderly caregiver can help ease their burdens and make their daily lives a bit easier. Companionship and some assistance navigating day-to-day tasks is something found in elderly care services. If you are concerned about a loved one who lives alone and suffers from depression, do your research to see if this is something that can be beneficial for your family. 
If you fear you or a senior family member suffers from depression, remember there will always be resources and help. The road to feeling better and regaining lust for life may seem intimidating at first but one that doesn’t have to be navigated alone. Those suffering from depression can reach out to family, friends and health providers and find the help they deserve to continue living the happiest, healthiest, most fulfilling life possible.  

Author Bio: Susan Ashby joined the Superior Senior Care team in July of 2014 as Community Relations Manager. With over 27 years of experience in geriatric health, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to Superior Senior Care and plays an integral part in connecting consumers and communities with resources for independent living.

Thanks Susan for a great guest post

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