Depression in older adults can occur for a variety of reasons. It can stem from physical health problems, a lack of social interaction, grief or a number of other factors. For caregivers and loved ones, it's important to recognize the warning signs associated with depression and intervene as early as possible. Here are a few of the most common signs of depression in seniors.
Most of us associate depression with extended periods of sadness, particularly when the cause of the sadness isn't evident. This sadness may be caused by an individual not feeling useful, or not having purpose. But, many seniors suffering from depression also report an absence of sadness. Instead, you should also watch for signs of low motivation, or a lack of energy.
That lack of energy, or excessive fatigue, can be a serious problem. This fatigue can lead to exacerbated symptoms like a lack of exercise, and lack of interaction with others. Seniors who feel tired at all times may resist going outside, or attending family get togethers, which only further complicates their depression. This is a particularly important symptom to watch for in seniors because not only can it be a sign of depression, but also of a number of other illnesses and maladies that should be investigated by a doctor.
Staying away from loved ones, and staying isolated, doesn't have to involve fatigue. In some cases, depression causes seniors to avoid social interactions for other reasons. Sometimes, for no clear reason at all. This can also come with feelings of anxiety, worry, or irritability. Staying isolated creates more problems, however, so it's generally important to get help that allows your loved one to resume activities they enjoy.
Loss of appetite
In many instances of senior depression, an individual will suddenly show little to no interest in food. Obviously, this leads to a lack of proper nutrition, which can cause a number of other health problems. This is often an early symptom of developing depression, so intervening at this phase could help to prevent further symptoms. In addition to enlisting the help of a professional, loss of appetite can be helped in the short term by encouraging your loved one to eat several smaller meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than three larger meals at traditional meal times.
Sleep patterns can be a clear sign that a senior is struggling with depression, or other health issues. Depression, specifically, can impact an individual's sleep in different ways, however. For some, they experience a difficulty falling asleep, or wake up constantly throughout the night. For others, they sleep more, often oversleeping, or falling asleep during the day after long periods of rest at night. These irregular sleep patterns contribute to the other symptoms discussed here and warrant an appointment with a medical professional.
These are just a few of the common symptoms that could indicate a senior is struggling with depression.
At Cura-HPC, we offer assistance and care that helps to identify and prevent depression and other common issues that occur during end of life care. To learn more about palliative care and hospice care, contact us by calling 800-797-3839.