The elderly are facing depression in alarming numbers, according to experts. One in four adults over 65 experience some form of depression, while one in 10 experience major depression. Depression affects the elderly because it’s often associated with other health conditions, including chronic pain and heart disease. There are even specific causes of depression common among older people, like grief or loss of independence caused by aging or illness. The following list can help you spot depression in the elderly early so that you can improve their quality of life.
One of the primary symptoms or signs of depression is an overwhelming sense of tiredness. If you feel like your loved ones could sleep all day but still can’t even make it through their favorite nightly TV shows, it might be time to visit a doctor for a diagnosis. If the doctor diagnoses depression, many drugs can help with depressive symptoms like fatigue. The key is to talk to a doctor before things get worse and start seeking help.
Maybe they are sleeping too much, or maybe they couldn’t sleep at all. Either way, the sleep patterns may be disrupted to such an extent that they are tired all day. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep is a significant symptom of depression. Older adults tend to have a more challenging time going to sleep and staying asleep. Still, sleeplessness itself may contribute to feelings of loneliness and worthlessness, which can also cause depression.
Be Grumpy or Irritable
People with depression sometimes feel sad, but they can also feel furious and easily irritated by people and things around them. If your loved one is usually a happy person but starts to be grumpy or irritable, you should ask if they’re OK. It’s a good idea to find out if something specific has happened that could upset them – for example, a job change or problems with children. Other family members might also notice signs of depression – for example, you might see your relative becoming more quiet than usual or having less energy.
If your loved ones are feeling confused, it could be a sign that their brains are not functioning normally. Confusion is often referred to as fuzzy thinking and can occur suddenly or gradually over time. Confusion could also have something to do with something other than depression, so ask them if there are any other reasons why they might feel confused. For example, maybe it’s because they have been under a lot of stress lately, or maybe they are sick. If you know that it is not simply a one-off case of being tired or stressed out, then see a doctor right away about getting tested for depression. As with any illness, earlier detection is a better treatment.
Struggle to Pay Attention
Many people struggle with attention and concentration as they age. However, if your loved one is having a hard time paying attention to conversations, reading, or watching TV in their golden years, it could be a sign that they’re struggling with depression. There’s an important distinction between normal aging and depression—so if you notice these changes in your loved one, take action!
Not Enjoying Activities that They Used to Like
One of the most common signs of depression is a lack of interest or enjoyment. It can be hard to tell sometimes, but looking back at your loved one’s behavior over time will likely reveal a pattern. If they aren’t as enthusiastic about hobbies and activities that used to bring them joy, it could be a sign they’re depressed. This could also be a sign that other medical problems are affecting them—including depression itself—so consult your loved one’s doctor if you notice changes in their mood or personality.