Frank, age 78, used to be the life of every family gathering, telling jokes and taking care of everyone. However, his children noticed that he hardly seemed to smile anymore and acted irritated whenever people came to visit. Frank no longer took an interest in activities he used to enjoy, such as watching football on TV and spending time at the library. His family grew worried about him and wondered if he was battling depression.
Depression in elderly adults is more than just being sad. As a serious mental health concern, depression goes undiagnosed and untreated far too often in seniors. Family caregivers are often unaware of the signs and symptoms of elderly depression, so they don’t know to get help. If a family caregiver believes that their aging loved one is struggling with depression, they must take steps to get them professional help.
The problem is that depression can easily be mistaken for other age-related issues or emotional conditions like grief or stress. It’s not uncommon for some seniors to hide their depression from their family members because they don’t want others to think they have mental health issues. They may even try to downplay it as no big deal. However, when left untreated, depression can seriously affect an elderly person’s quality of life.
Not only does depression lead to a range of mental and emotional problems, it can influence a person’s physical health as well. Studies show that seniors with depression are more likely to suffer from cardiac arrest. In extreme cases, depression can trigger suicide. It’s so important for family caregivers to learn as much as they can about senior depression, so they can see the warning signs when they are apparent.
The most common warning signs of senior depression include aches and pains, social withdrawal, irritability, sadness, hopelessness, lack of hygiene, insomnia, heavy alcohol or drug use and lack of focus. Other symptoms include digestive issues, migraines, self-harm and suicide attempts. No matter what, seniors cannot overcome depression on their own. They need the help of a doctor to deal with this mental illness.
Treatment options for seniors are up to the doctor, but generally consist of an antidepressant plus cognitive behavior therapy by a licensed professional therapist. Many family caregivers hire a home care services provider to pick up some of the workload around the house. They can also provide companionship for the aging adult, plus provide transportation for them to boost their social life. A home care services provider is an excellent way for family caregivers to know their loved one is being taken care of when they cannot be with them.
Depression is a serious mental health issue, and family caregivers cannot let their aging loved one’s suffer. They need to encourage them to seek help from a medical professional. Family caregivers can also help by making their support a key part of their aging relative’s treatment plan.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services near Manheim PA, contact the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Lancaster. Call today at (717) 205-2174.
A long-time resident of Lancaster County, Mary Lynne enjoys spending time with her husband Terry, and their 3 horses and collies. The countless hours of caring for her client and employee-based “family” at work and at home can truly depict the selfless character of Mary Lynne Heller. Mary Lynne is a Google Verified Author
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