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Identifying and Treating Elderly Depression

It’s hard enough watching our loved ones move through life and age with illness and all that comes with that process naturally, but to see them in a depressive state of mind is even more challenging.

Even though the aging process often carries aches and pains, many are still able to maintain a good outlook. However, when depression rears its ugly head to one of our loved ones it can be debilitating for all involved.

Clinical depression in the elderly has become more common these days and sadly, only about 10% get the treatment they need.

The main reason depression is not caught for a very long time is the symptoms are often confused with illness and medication.

So many things are going on with their health anyway and people tend to think that more sleeping and subdued behavior is a part of the aging process.

Four signs to look for are:

  • loss of interest in former hobbies

  • neglect in grooming

  • listlessness

  • insomnia.

Elderly people without others in their lives for support find it very difficult to deal with depression. Other things like stress, diabetes and other illnesses can also contribute as well. Even certain medications or their combinations can be contributors.

Living with constant physical pain can lead anyone into a state of depression, but it seems to hit the elderly the hardest.

Depression after a surgical procedure has been known to take place with elderly people. To them, it’s just another problem to add to an already long list of problems and frankly they sometimes just get to the point where they say enough is enough.

Elderly depression can be a very serious thing that can harm the heart and the ability of the older body to overcome illness and can even shorten an elderly person’s life.

This is why a good evaluation and correct treatment is so important.

Three things you can do to help your loved ones during this difficult time are:

  • A mental health therapist can help and there are medications that can be prescribed in certain situations. Although sometimes it can be very difficult to acquire acceptance from the elderly for this method, it is well worth the effort to try.

  • In many cases, help might come by having regular visits from an old friend or a pastor that they have a lot of respect for, or even a spiritual message on depression that could be watched on television or DVD.

  • If the elderly person is in good enough health, they could do volunteer work at hospitals, public schools or the local library. Helping or serving others often brings much gratification and a feeling of sense of worth or value.

Our loved ones have been there for us for so many years and we care deeply about them. We want the late years of their lives to be as happy as the younger years were. When they are sad, we are sad. We worry about them and what will happen to them.

This worrying can even lead to our own problems if we let it and the vicious cycle that continues.

Finding out if your loved one is experiencing depression is very important. Finding the appropriate treatment is just as important.

Letting them know that we love them and care about them is also very important and can go a long way in helping them overcome these challenges.

Life, (the entire life) is meant to be enjoyed and to experience happiness as much as we can. If you feel that your loved one might be experiencing some depression, act now and don’t wait! Get them the help they need and allow happiness to once again fill their hearts. Everyone will feel better.

Dan Taylor is the founder of Family First Alert

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