Depression is not a normal part of aging. If your loved one seems dispirited, uninterested in daily life or hobbies, has no interest in eating or has disrupted sleep patterns, they may be suffering from depression.
As we age we experience the death of loved ones, retirement and illness. The holidays may cause melancholy about people and places gone by. We feel sadness and sometimes grief, but eventually we adjust and begin to enjoy life again. Depression interferes with the ability to rebound from loss and disappointment. It prevents a return to normal, daily life. The National Institute of Mental Health says, “Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a medical condition that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Many older adults with depression need treatment to feel better.”
Unfortunately, some people regard depression as an excuse to avoid life rather than a medical condition. Mental health professionals call it “the secret disease” because many of those affected are often unwilling to admit they suffer from it. Estimates indicate that 20 percent of adults aged 55 or older have experienced some type of mental health concern, but nearly one in three do not receive treatment.
If your loved one exhibits any of the following signs and symptoms continuously , it may be time to seek help.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down.”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions.
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
- Appetite and/or unintended weight changes.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts.
- Restlessness, irritability.
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.
Talk to a doctor and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. You can also talk to a member of the clergy who may be able to offer therapy. Depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, exercise, and alternative therapies like yoga. Sometimes it requires a combination of therapies to treat an individual’s depression. As a caregiver the most important thing is to keep a close eye on your loved one and his or her improvement, or lack thereof, through therapy.
Home Care Assistance caregivers can be your eyes and ears during the day. We provide your senior with one-on-one assistance from a trained caregiver in the comfort of his or her own home. With assistance from a caregiver, seniors are able to live at home independently and maintain their quality of life. The personal attention they receive vastly improves their safety, health and happiness. If your loved one suffers from depression we will support them through their treatment and provide the care and companionship that will help them along the way.