People love to joke that getting older is depressing. As human bodies age, their health and functionality are likely to decline. People move slower, get weaker, and just don’t have the vigor they once did. There are exceptions, and the rate at which this decline happens varies, especially among those who focus on health and fitness. Still, physical aging can be a source of sadness.
Some of this might be balanced with the wisdom that comes with experience and knowing how to make the most of life. Still, those with older relatives and friends should go about recognizing depression in the elderly.
Six million elderly Americans are likely afflicted with depression. However, only 10 percent of them are getting any kind of treatment for it. The discrepancy might be due to the fact that many older Americans have other conditions and are on many medications to manage and preserve their health. The symptoms of these other conditions and side effects of those medications can be ones that mask an underlying depression.
Younger people might not easily spot depression in older friends and family because it manifests differently in older generations. For starters, it usually lasts longer. Also, it’s often highly linked with heart disease. A case of heart disease might lead to depression, but depression might also trigger heart disease. Heart attacks themselves are more likely to happen to someone who is battling depression.
The symptoms of depression in older people still align a lot with those of younger sufferers. They feel exhausted and tired, and they might have trouble sleeping. They might have feelings of confusion, emptiness, and grumpiness. Moving more slowly is likely, and there can be changes in their weight.
Older Americans often start losing their systems of social support from people around them. This can lead to emotional isolation and even result in thoughts of suicide. In fact, those in their early 80s have twice the suicide rate of the general population.
Diagnosis of depression can happen with a doctor’s appointment. They have specific questionnaires they use to ascertain the presence and level of the condition. Treatment is possible, but only if the condition is actually recognized in time. That might mean being spotted by someone around the elderly person instead of themselves.