It’s estimated that as many as two million seniors over the age of 65 suffer from depression. Depression has no limitations, but it’s more likely to strike when other health conditions are present. For example, this article points out that a quarter of people who have a stroke will go on to suffer from clinical depression. For seniors, health problems can become a daily part of life, and this can cause the risk of depression to increase. While depression is very common, the majority of seniors don’t receive treatment.
Hidden Signs of Depression in Seniors
It’s not always easy to recognize the signs of depression in older adults, particularly because many say that they don’t feel sad. In fact, one of the most commonly reported symptoms associated with depression is worsening physical pain. If you notice that your loved one keeps complaining of being in pain or is having a slow recovery process, it’s possible that depression may be the cause.
A few other signs to look for in your senior loved one include:
- Unusual fatigue
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Changes in sleep habits
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feelings of worthlessness
How to Help Your Loved One Manage their Depression
Depression is treatable, so it’s important to talk to your loved one’s doctor if you suspect the condition. There are safe, effective medications available for seniors. Of course, there are ways you can help, too.
- Carry photos of loved ones. Encourage your parent to carry photos of their loved ones. A recent UCLA study reported that women reported less pain when they looked at a picture of their significant other.
- Establish a strong peer network. Having like-minded friends is important, so help your loved one establish positive relationships. For instance, offer to take them to the senior center a few days a week or hire senior companion services.
- Enjoy regular exercise. Exercise has many health benefits, and it can also help clear the mind and boost self confidence. Consider the many senior-friendly activities available such as yoga, tai chi, strength training, swimming and stretching.
- Spend time online. Spending time online is a great way to reduce senior loneliness and isolation. On those days when your loved one can’t get out of the house, encourage them to use social media to look at pictures and chat with loved ones.