It’s estimated that millions of seniors in the United States are affected by late-life depression, and only a fraction of those people receive help. Oftentimes this depression is brought on by a health challenge, such as a stroke.
Families should be aware that depression in older adults can be hard to recognize. Often, the symptoms are different than those experienced by younger generations. Here are some common warning signs that someone you love might be suffering from depression:
- Confusion: Usually confusion and memory problems are associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. But these issues can also be triggered by depression, which is why it’s advisable to seek a medical opinion.
- Sleep Patterns: While changes in sleep patterns often occur later in life, some changes might be connected with depression. Watch for signs that the person is always tired or having difficulty sleeping at night.
- Withdrawing from Loved Ones: If you notice that an elderly family member is withdrawing from friends and family, it could be a sign of depression. Withdrawing might also be a sign of elder abuse, so it is important to fully assess the senior’s situation.
- Irritability or Moodiness: The person’s attitude and mood can be affected by depression. Common signs include irritability, ongoing sadness, increased crying, fidgeting, excessive fear or worry, or even hallucinations and delusions.
- Change in Eating Habits: When someone experiences a drastic change in their eating habits, depression may be to blame. And when seniors lose their appetite, nutrition and weight deficiencies often emerge.
Depression is a serious mental health concern. The symptoms can continue to worsen without medical support. Additionally, untreated depression can increase a person’s risk of falling victim to elder abuse. If you suspect that your family member might be suffering from geriatric depression, take action now.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.