As people age, they undergo physical and emotional changes that can affect their mental health. Life-altering events like losing a spouse or being diagnosed with a chronic illness can cause older adults to feel anxious and depressed. When allowed to persist, depression can lead to problems like social isolation and malnutrition that diminish a senior’s quality of life. Helping seniors effectively manage depression starts with being able to recognize its telltale signs.
Depression Triggers in the Seniors
Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, roughly one-in-four elderly Americans surveyed in August of 2020 reported that they felt anxious or depressed. In general, these are the most common triggers or contributing factors of depression in adults aged 65-and-over:
Death of a spouse, friend, or other close loved one
Side effects, including depression, caused by certain prescription medications
Signs of Depression in Seniors
As an informal caregiver these are some of the warning signs that your loved one may be depressed:
If you notice that your senior isn’t socializing with friends like they used to, they may be depressed. Frequently making excuses for not attending family events is another sign of depression for elderly loved ones.
Although it’s natural to experience grief after losing a close loved one, when the grieving process goes on for an extended period of time it could indicate chronic depression. If your senior’s grief lasts for more than one year, it may take intervention from a healthcare professional for them to recover.
Aches and pains, not seeing their family as much, and having more free time on their hands can all make a senior cranky. But when your loved one was once a happy, content person, a sudden change in behavior could be a red flag for depression. If their irritable state persists for more than two weeks, ask them respectfully what’s wrong.
Changes in Appetite
If your loved one used to have a healthy appetite, but now can now barely stomach one meal a day, they may be suffering from depression. While in your senior’s home, look for signs that they aren’t eating right, such as rapid weight loss, a gaunt appearance, loose-fitting clothes, or an empty fridge. Because factors other than depression must be ruled out first, encourage them to see a doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made.
As we age, achy muscles and joints are an everyday occurrence. But if mom or dad are complaining more than usual about their aches and pains, it might be an indication that they are depressed rather than just old. And although the pain is real, the heightened level could be the result of their mental state more than the physical.
Treatment Options for Depressed Seniors
For seniors living in the post-COVID age, loneliness and isolation due to spending too much time alone at home is another trigger for depression. If you suspect that your aging loved one is at risk, monitor their behavior and appearance.
Once a healthcare professional has diagnosed your senior with depression, they may recommend one or more of these treatment options:
For a senior living with depression, the road to recovery is filled with challenges that will take time to overcome. As a concerned friend or family member, be sure to give your loved one the support and encouragement they need. If you’re not able to spend enough time with them, a professional in-home caregiver from a licensed home care provider can offer much-needed companionship that will help your loved one remain safe and comfortable when you’re not there.
Reliable In-Home Companion Care for Seniors in Virginia
Looking after an aging loved one with depression can be challenging when you’re busy or live far away. At AmeriCare Plus, we are a family-owned senior care business that’s been assisting clients and their families in Virginia for over 26 years now. Spearheaded by our Team Teal, we offer our clients care, compassion, and security in the comfort of their own homes.
As a licensed home care provider, our highly trained professionals deliver in-home services including hourly personal care, live-in companion care, post-operative care, dementia care, and respite care. With 10 convenient locations across Virginia, we are one big family taking care of your family. To learn more about AmeriCare Plus now, or to schedule an initial consultation for a senior in our service area, please visit us today at www.americarepluspc.com.