Elders and Depression: How To Spot The Warning Signs

According to WebMD, “Clinical depression in the elderly is common. That doesn’t mean it’s normal. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression.”

Depression in elders can be particularly troubling, as it tends to increase the likelihood of prolonged illnesses, and/or the onset of disease. WebMD states: “Depression in the elderly often increases their risk of cardiac diseases. Depression doubles an elderly person’s risk of cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness. At the same time, depression reduces an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate. Studies of nursing home patients with physical illnesses have shown that the presence of depression substantially increases the likelihood of death from those illnesses. Depression also has been associated with increased risk of death following a heart attack. For that reason, making sure that an elderly person you are concerned about is evaluated and treated is important, even if the depression is mild.”

Signs and symptoms of depression in elders may include:

Memory problems
Confusion
Withdrawing from friends, family
Loss of appetite
Weight loss
Complaints of pain
Insomnia
Irritability
Delusions
Hallucinations
Ongoing sadness
Excessive worrying
Pacing/Fidgeting
Frequent crying

Depression is a serious mental condition and must be treated. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, untreated depression in elders may lead to a worsening of symptoms of other illnesses, premature death, disability, or even result in suicide.
If you believe an elder you love is showing signs of depression, speak with their physician.

You may also find helpful information here:
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation: www.GMHFonline.org
National Mental Health Association: www.NMHA.org
American Geriatrics Society: www.americangeriatrics.org
National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov

Christopher C. Walton is a peer-recognized, California elder abuse attorney. Chris’ practice is dedicated to issues involving elder abuse & nursing home abuse and neglect. If you believe somebody you know has been a victim of elder abuse, please call (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.