While depression can be common among seniors, it is a condition that can be treated. If your loved one has shown signs of depression that have continued over a period of weeks, months or more, it can be time to seek help. Learn about depression in elderly here, and how you can help your loved one if you think they are depressed.
Signs of Depression
Depression in seniors can look different from depression in younger people given that both age groups are typically involved in different sets of activities. Younger people often have ascribed schedules to adhere to – think work and school – so if they are withdrawing from their usual activities, the warning signs of depression are quite clear. For a retired adult however, the signs may be trickier to spot. Isolation can be a common trigger of depression among retirees, as the sense of not having a purpose can be a catalyst for depression. A lack of meaningful social engagement can lead to lower moods.
Depression can also manifest physically. You may notice your loved one eating less, sleeping more and acting sluggish. While they may not be feeling explicitly sad, a lack of energy – especially when it becomes consistent – could be a sign of depression. If you’ve noticed the following in your loved one, it could be time to consider help:
- Memory issues
- Physical aches and pains
- Personality changes
- Preferring to stay at home rather than trying new things or socializing
How You Can Help
If you’ve noticed these signs in your loved one, the first thing to do is talk to them. For older generations, talking about mental health openly could be practically unheard of; in the past it might have stigmatized. It is important that you let your loved one know that depression is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you sense that your loved one might have difficulties talking about the subject directly, you could try easing into the conversation. Tell them that you’ve noticed they don’t seem like themselves lately and ask them what’s on their mind. Perhaps you could ask them if there are any activities in the near future they’re looking forward too, or if they’ve been spending much time with their friends.
You can also:
- Let your loved one know that you’re here to support and help them live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life
- Time your conversation with them carefully. Perhaps they’re at their most co-operative or sharpest during mealtimes
- Encourage them to see their doctor. If your loved one’s depression is a symptom of a condition such as dementia, heart disease, or a reaction to medication, a medical professional can help
- Talk to them about therapy. Assure them that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and many people today find benefits in talking with professionals
A Fulfilling Retirement
Retirement can be difficult for some. Although it ushers in a relaxing lifestyle, the lack of structure and isolation may weigh on mental health. If you are already exploring assisted living for your loved one, check if their community has a vibrant roster of activities and events to keep them refreshed, rejuvenated and happy.