Dealing with Senior Depression: Watching and Responding to Signs

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Depression and Older Adults

Feelings of isolation and helplessness among seniors stem from the loss of or separation from social support systems. However, depression and anxiety are not linked to aging. It can inflict anyone of any age at any stage in life. The sooner we understand this, the more active we can be towards pinpointing signs of depression among older family members.

What’s equally important is the care that helps seniors manage these mental inhibitions. Whether they are located in Houston, Ogden, or any other city or town, nursing homes can provide primary care during such cases. They can ease senior members’ transition into assisted living. But before considering a nursing home for your parent or grandparent, know the telltale signs of depression among seniors to create better responses.

They’re sleeping less or more

Sleeping too little or too much, frequent awakenings, and difficulty in returning to sleep, or non-restorative sleep are all telltale signs of depressive disorders among seniors. Research associates clinical insomnia with the presence of other underlying chronic conditions, such as cancer, chronic pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, medication use, and other factors relating to aging like retirement, inactivity, or shifting to assisted care.

They’re suddenly into new hobbies

Getting into a new pastime is perfectly OK. Still, if your senior relative is suddenly starting new hobbies or taking on too many tasks at the same time, then they might just be trying to fend off anxious or depressive thoughts. In this case, focus on positive encouragement. While these may be a sign of denial, healthy, harmless hobbies are still good mental practices and should not be a cause of alarm.

They complain about body pains

While aging naturally takes a toll on seniors’ bodies, chronic pain due to accumulated body ailments could be something else. It may be a prevalent somatic symptom of depression, especially when it is abrupt and untraceable. However, depression does not cause it. Instead, it aggravates your elderly member’s perception of chronic physical pains, such as muscle tension, cramps, and even headaches and stomachaches.

They don’t like social interactions

Did they suddenly lose interest in interacting with people when they were previously so forthcoming? They might be struggling with anxious and depressive thoughts, stemming from losing a sense of purpose. 

Other related signs are when they’ve lost attention to keeping themselves neat and orderly, when they abruptly gain or lose weight, or have chosen to wear loose, mismatching, or worn-out clothing.

They become irritable or fearful

Apart from antisocial behavior, depression among seniors also manifests itself through unexplained mood swings. Geriatric mood disorders, such as sudden irritability or withdrawal, often cloak depressive disorders as an effort to dismiss physical ailments.

On the surface, they can also be histrionic or chronically melodramatic and passive-aggressive. However, caregivers must be cautious, as these withdrawals may blur worse disorders, such as delusions and hallucinations, bipolar disorder, or even dementia if neglected or untreated.

They’re always tired or lethargic

Due to weakened motor capabilities, aging family members often stay in a harmless sedentary state. However, you must learn to discern when this is already a sign of depression.

It’s one thing to be tired, and another to lack the energy despite just having eaten or neglect personal care for no reason at all. What’s worse is in this state of lethargy, they may choose to ignore drinking their required medications.

Recognize the patterns in these signs, and you will gain the awareness that your senior relative is acting out of order. Detect depressive disorders early, and you get a better chance of treating it as soon as possible.