By Daniel Lewis
Depression is the state of a person feeling dejected, sad or anguished. It can cause a loss of self-esteem and leave someone feeling useless and unimportant. Many seniors are seriously affected by depression, according to surveys carried out by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Senior Depression and Illness
Out of the estimated 6 million elderly people living with depression in the United States, only about 10% have managed to get proper medical care. The impact of depression on the elderly can differ from that on younger generations. Studies have discovered a direct correlation between elderly depression and certain diseases. For example, heart attack has been linked with depression among the elderly in the U.S.
And, rates of depression are continuing to rise among those 65 and older, as people confront the loss of friends or a spouse, declining health, financial shortfalls and other challenges of growing older.
The way out of a depressive episode begins with the individual admitting that a problem exists. Unfortunately, overcoming the potential stigma of having a mental health issue can be too much for some. Statistics show that approximately one-fifth of suicides in the U.S. alone are among the elderly, with the majority of these deaths a result of untreated depression.
Complications Related to Depression
Insomnia is a common indicator of depression among the elderly. Many seniors don’t get enough physical activity in a day, and a sedentary lifestyle is known to contribute to a lack of sleep.
Withdrawing from friends and social interactions, as well as a loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, are other indicators of depression. Isolation further contributes to depression, and can lead to other health concerns. Over-consumption of alcohol, sometimes done to combat boredom or feelings of loss, can be especially dangerous for the elderly. Mixing alcohol and prescription medications can be fatal.
When depressed, seniors may have a lack of appetite. Over time, a decrease in body weight can allow the elder to become frail. This, in turn, leads to falls and fractures.
What Can You Do?
It is high time to start taking this disease seriously. If you’re noticing that your aging parent spends most their day inside, and they don’t interact with others like they once did, these are major red flags for depression.
First, urge your older loved one to consult with their physician; you may need to take them to the appointment and broach the subject. Medication may be necessary to get your loved one through this depressive episode.
Second, check on your loved one more frequently, if possible. Visiting with them, taking them out for walks or lending a hand with household chores could substantially lift their mood.
Third, make a point of helping them reach out to friends and other relatives. Having someone or something to look forward to can be life-changing for people of any age… especially seniors.
These small steps could make a big difference!
Daniel Lewis is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge at this field. He also writes for a site http://www.foresthc.com/ providing elder care homes and retirement villages.