Geriatric Depression: What to Do When Loved Ones Show Signs

Seniors are at a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with various illnesses. Throughout the years, the body accumulates molecular and cellular damage that, over time, causes the decline of a person’s physical and mental capabilities. Age is, unfortunately, a risk factor for a number of health conditions, including loss of sight and hearing, osteoarthritis, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, and certain cancers.

However, there is one illness that is not often talked about and afflicts many seniors: depression.

Depression Among Older Adults

With aging, it is natural to feel a little sad and blue occasionally. When it lasts longer and has started to negatively impact an elderly’s everyday functioning, it becomes a cause for concern.

Depression among older adults is called geriatric depression. There is no one reason why it happens. It can be a result of biological, psychological, and social factors. The death of a loved one, for example, can lead to geriatric depression. The condition can also appear after the senior has received a diagnosis for a long-term and life-threatening illness.

Many seniors also feel lonely. The physical and mental limitations cause a senior to stay home most of the time, losing opportunities to interact and connect with other people. Loneliness can lead to depression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 7 percent of the global population of older adults have depression. Depression, when left untreated, is deadly. It significantly decreases the quality of life, and it might end in suicide.

People who have senior family members should spot the symptoms of geriatric depression in their loved ones. Those who have it might experience irritability, restlessness, withdrawal,  crying spells, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, changes in dietary habits, problem sleeping, and thoughts of suicide.

Treatment for Geriatric Depression

elderly man exercising

Typically, a person must display symptoms of depression for more than two weeks before they are diagnosed. Treatment for geriatric depression will be determined after the patient has spoken with a psychiatrist. Their doctor may prescribe medication and recommend that the patient undergo therapy.

In addition, lifestyle changes, including increasing physical activity and finding a fulfilling hobby, might be suggested.

Considering Assisted Living

Depression can prevent a person from doing even the most basic tasks, such as showering and eating. Their mental well-being can have an impact on their physical health, too. Families of seniors that have major depression should seek help.

It is common for seniors to, in their final years, move into an assisted living facility. Whether they have an illness or not, residential care guarantees that some professionals are available to provide support when necessary. This includes food preparation, hygiene and dressing, administration of medication and other treatments, cleaning their room or home, and transportation to appointments and errands.

But, to seniors who have depression, assisted living provides supervision 24/7. The staff is trained to respond to residents who may be experiencing mental and emotional distress. It can prevent unwanted scenarios from happening.

Of course, choosing the right facility is key. Every family wants to ensure that their loved ones are well taken care of and their needs are being provided. There are senior living placement services that can refer clients to the correct facility.

Being in the right facility is crucial. They not only will receive aid in their day-to-day survival, entering an assisted living facility could improve the quality of life of older adults.

The right assisted living facility will provide seniors access to different amenities and activities. For example, there are regular exercises that are tailored to the physical capabilities of residents. Exercise is vital in maintaining health. Staying active has also been proven to improve mood and provide relief from symptoms of depression.

Seniors will also eat a healthy balanced diet at an assisted living facility. The task of preparing nutrient-dense meals becomes harder as a person grows older.  Those with dietary limitations because of an existing medical condition require special attention to ensure that they are getting the vitamins and minerals that their body needs and avoiding food that is bad for their health.

Most importantly, an assisted living facility creates opportunities for older adults to socialize with people their own age. They can be friends with fellow residents and even form romantic relationships. In short, they are not alone if they do not want to, preventing loneliness, and they live rich social lives.

Caring for an elderly loved one that has major depression will be tough. They should receive the attention and care that they need. If a senior is showing symptoms of mental and emotional disorders, they should consult a psychiatrist to receive treatment.

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