58320809 - sad senior woman sitting at a table in a retirement home

Sometimes people think that older adults get naturally cranky with age, but this simply isn’t true. You can feel good at any age!

If you notice that Mom or Dad isn’t acting like themselves, take note. Signs of sadness or despair can indicate geriatric depression, a mental health condition that can be treated with medications, support and self-help strategies.

Signs of Geriatric Depression

Below are 13 signs that your senior loved one might be struggling with depression.

  1. Loss of interest in social activities or hobbies.
  1. Aches and pains with no root cause.
  1. Feelings of sadness or despair.
  1. Loss of appetite or rapid weight loss.
  1. Lack of motivation or energy.
  1. Neglecting Personal Home Care needs such as showering, wearing clean clothes and taking medications on time.
  1. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  1. Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  1. Slowed movement and speech.
  1. Thinking about death or talking about dying.
  1. Problems with remembering or recalling information.
  1. Feelings of worthlessness.
  1. Increased use of drugs or alcohol.

Ways to Help Your Loved One

If you believe that your loved one could be depressed, the first step is to talk to their doctor. You can start with Mom or Dad’s general practitioner rather than a psychologist or therapist, which can help them feel more comfortable. Offer to go with them, as two sets of ears are better than one. It’s possible that depression is to blame, but it’s also possible that something else could be going on (i.e., side effects from medication, thyroid disorder).

If a mental health professional is recommended by your loved one’s doctor, ask for a referral and offer to take your loved one. Encourage them to make a list of the things they are feeling, both physically and emotionally. Maybe you have some insight. Does Mom seem more anxious when she has to drive somewhere?

Stay involved in your loved one’s treatment. Offer to help with whatever you can, such as scheduling appointments or reminding them to take their medication. Be patient, as recovery doesn’t happen overnight. You can speed up the process, however, with healthy lifestyle changes like more exercise, nutritious meals and positive thinking.

Depression in older adults is common, but the condition can be treated. We recommend this great article on depression in seniors for further information.