Do you feel bored of the things you used to love doing? Do you feel helpless in every situation you are in? Do you find it hard to get through the daily challenges of life? If you answered all of the questions above “yes,” then you’re not alone. In fact, this is a common condition most of us will experience as we age. The important thing is that depression in older people is curable. With treatment, the right kind of support, self-help and lifestyle improvements, you can still achieve an optimistic, happy and fulfilled life.
Depression is a common issue in the elderly
Depression as a condition is a very common in the elderly. The bad news is that it affects every aspect of a person’s life: your sleep, appetite, energy, hobbies, interest in your job, and most importantly, your relationship with your loved ones.
Unfortunately, many seniors experiencing severe depression do not recognize even the most prominent symptoms of the condition, and they don’t seek for help either. There are tons of reasons why elderly depression is often overlooked. Here are a few:
- You may presume that you have every reason in the world to be sad and you’re thinking that depression is just normal when aging;
- The people around you are making you feel secluded – which is self-depressing itself – with only a few or close-to-zero people to notice your desolation;
- You may think that your physical pains are nothing – without knowing they are already signs of depression;
- The people are hesitant to ask what you feel.
Depression is often mistaken as a flaw of a person’s character and even a sign of weakness. But I tell you, depression can happen to anyone – young or old, poor or rich, no matter what your background is. In addition to that, physical loss or illness and the everyday challenges as you age should never bring you down. You have the freedom to feel better and enjoy life as much as you want, no matter what hurdle comes in your way.
What are some of the signs and symptoms of elderly depression?
Some of the symptoms may include but not limited to:
- Getting feelings of despair;
- Loss of appetite;
- Weight loss;
- Unexplained aches or pains;
- Feelings of hopelessness;
- Loss of interest in social interaction and in one’s hobbies;
- Sleep disruption (oversleeping, drowsiness in the morning, having difficulties in sleeping, or staying asleep);
- Slowed speech or movement;
- Memory issues;
- Suicide thoughts;
- Loss of self-worth;
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol.
How will you know if it’s grief or depression?
- We experience many losses as we age. And it’s undeniable that a loss is painful – may it be a loss of mobility, independence, the job that you love doing, or a long-time relationship. To grief over these type of losses is normal and is surely healthy, even if some people around you think that the feeling of sadness lasts longer than they expect.
- Determining whether you’re grieving or depressed is never easy, especially as they share the same set of symptoms. Nevertheless, there are still ways to distinguish one to the other. The thing in grieving is that it’s like a mixture of good and bad feelings. Even when you’re grieving, there will still be times that you’ll feel happiness and pleasure. On the other hand, when you feel depressed, it’s just a constant feeling of sadness, helplessness, and despair.
- There may not be an exact time when grief ends, but if it doesn’t include any sign of happiness such as appreciating the sunset and laughing at a humorous joke, then it may be depression.
How can you help a depressed senior?
When you come to ask the help of a specialist in our Houston home healthcare center, you will be instructed how to help yourself or others suffering from depression. Here are some tips:
1. Look for ways to stay engaged
If you’re someone who is depressed, there would really be times where you don’t want to see anyone or even do anything. Doing this, isolation, will only make you feel more depressed. For you to feel better, you have to engage in different activities. If you feel you have drifted apart from your partner, couples therapy may be a good way to reconnect.
2. Be healthy
When you are depressed, finding the motivation to do something is really hard. That is why you have to check on your health yourself. Put in mind that during this period of your life, everything that you do is actually affecting your health. The best way to feel better and more enthusiastic in life is to take care of your body and your whole well-being.
3. When to seek help from the professionals
People often commit the mistake of thinking that the success rate in treating depression in older people is lower than when treating the young. That may be true in some cases since some elders have an underlying medical condition or an emotional difficulty that may be an obstacle during the treatment process. If, for example, loneliness is what you see as the root cause of your depression, then medication alone may not address your problem. However, with the right kind of a treatment plan, depression should be addressed without having any complications.
4. If you are taking meds, be religious in taking them
You need to make a commitment in taking your meds religiously. You have to remind yourself that you will not be cured unless you follow what your doctor advises you. It would be better if you set alarms on your phone or in your alarm clock for you to be reminded.
Suffering with depression is hard. There are times that you get too helpless in the situation you are in. No matter how hard you try, your thoughts always seem to take you on a bleak path; sufferers often think that the only solution to their problem is ending their life. Everyone who goes through this should have someone by their side to make them remember that life can be beautiful as well. There should be someone who can make them optimistic about their future again. By letting sufferers deal with the condition by themselves they can feel isolated or that no one cares for them anymore, which only worsens their condition.
Author Bio: Since her childhood days, Angela has already admired those people who give primary care to the oldies. Because of her passion towards elders, she decided to take Physical Therapy in college which specializes rehabilitation for the elders. During her free time, she writes in her journal about the different moments she had with the elders that she loves most.