A majority of men and women from the
ages of 55-74 report they are satisfied with their lives and are
currently in good health. While periods of depression may occur
among seniors, it is important to remember that it is not a normal
part of aging.
the most common mental health concern for older adults, affecting
between 15 to 20 percent of older adults living in the community. It
is not a normal part of aging. Symptoms such as decreased energy,
poor sleep and preoccupation with health problems should be viewed
as possible symptoms of a treatable illness and are NOT a result of
the aging process.
Treatment for depression works, yet
too many people remain undiagnosed and untreated because they don't
recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.
Mental health specialists generally
agree on the following definition of major depression:
- Symptoms persist for two
weeks or longer
- People either have
depressed moods or seem unable to enjoy life.
- Major depression should
be considered if four of the following seven criteria are present:
- A change in sleeping habits (more
or less than usual)
- A change in eating habits or weigh
- Low energy or fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling worthless or excessively
- Marked restlessness or slowed-down
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can be defined as an
imbalance of brain chemicals triggered by stress and life events,
including biological, psychological and social factors.
Depression is NOT a character or
Many of the signs of depression may
also indicate other problems or medical conditions - It is important
to consult with a doctor to determine if your symptoms indicate
depression or another medical condition.
Depression is often difficult to
recognize among the senior population and it tends to be under
diagnosed. Living with depression not only prevents older adult from
fully enjoying their lives but it puts a strain upon their health,
which can lead to other medical concerns. It is also very difficult
for their caregivers and places a strain on their health as well.
What we do know is that there is no
one cause for depression- every individual is unique in what may
cause their depression, and what may trigger a depressive episode.
Some possible causes and risk factors include genetics and family
history, brain chemistry, personality, major illness, medications &
alcohol, and life events. Risk factors for serious depression,
particularly in older adults, may include loss and bereavement, lack
of social support, isolation, living in poverty, being a caregiver,
Having depression could also increase
the risk of suicide among older adults, particularly in older males.
According to the CDC, seniors account for more than 16% of all
suicide deaths. Older adults who are over the age of 60 are far more
likely to have a higher risk rate of suicide than younger people. If
you feel that a friend or a loved one is suicidal, encourage them to
seek out help either from a doctor, friend, crisis centre or, mental
Some things to keep in mind:
- Keep a positive attitude. Remember
that slowing down does not mean you have to come to a complete
stop. Chances are you will still be able to do almost all the
things you used to; you may just need to take a little more time
and learn to pace yourself.
- See your family doctor regularly.
He/she can, then, deal with any changes or symptoms that require
- Be careful about your medications.
As you get older, they may begin to interact differently with
other drugs and to affect you differently than before. Make sure
your doctor knows about all your medications, even those
prescribed by another doctor.
- Take responsibility for your own
health. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor questions; some do not
offer explanations unless asked.
Depression is a serious disorder that
is treatable. In addition, dealing with an individual who is
suffering from depression or at risk of suicide can be absolutely
overwhelming for a caregiver. Although the caregiver is providing
care and assistance to their loved ones they must also look after
their own emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
While all of us may feel sad from
time to time, sadness is not depression and it is important to
remember that depression is not a normal part of aging.
Elder Caring Inc.
is a group of experts with backgrounds in Social Work, Occupational
Therapy, Physiotherapy and Gerontology. As working professionals in
the field, all of our team members have many years of experience in
working with the disabled, the elderly, and their families. The
company has team members and representatives across Canada.