If you’re an adult with a parent who’s a senior citizen, you’re understandably concerned about their well-being even if they’re living in your home or have in home care assistance. However, unless you’re watching for it, you might miss signs of a treatable depression that is affecting your loved one’s quality of life.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 to 5% of community-dwelling seniors suffer from depression, but that number rises to 13.5% among those requiring home care. You and your parent’s home caregiver can both be on alert for the signs of senior depression and some of the possible causes. If you find that your parent is showing some of the symptoms of depression, you can arrange for them to seek help.
Impact of Lifestyle Changes
Seniors are at increased risk of depression due to chronic illness and loss of independence, but the symptoms can be written off to “getting old”. It is important to understand that depression is not a part of normal aging.
One of the most common triggers of depression is a change in lifestyle. After living in the same home for several years and moving away, your mom or dad may feel lonely for their friends, the comforts of home and the sights and sounds of their old neighborhood. The death of a spouse or long-time friends can also spur feelings of loss and loneliness. Some seniors combat depression a short time after retiring. They may feel like they no longer have a purpose and are useless.
Symptoms of Senior Depression
The signs of depression are a little bit different for the elderly than they are for most other age groups. While extreme sadness is a typical sign of depression in most adults, it’s one that is rarely exhibited by seniors. Instead, the symptoms are more notable in physical signs. For example, seniors may have a diminished appetite, increased irritability and reduced energy. They may exhibit and loss of concern over personal hygiene.. Depressed seniors are typically uninterested in socializing or participating in what used to be their favorite hobbies. They may be more prone to drinking alcohol. Physical complaints like general aches and pains are also very common.
How You Can Help
There are several things you can do to help a parent you suspect may be depressed. While gently talking about some of the possible triggers is one option, simply engaging them in stimulating conversation and inviting them to participate in activities are positive steps. If you live far away, more frequent phone calls and emails are a good idea. If your parent lives with you, try to take more time out of your busy day to spend quality time together.
However, it is important to realize that depression is a treatable condition that requires proper medical evaluation. Several types of successful therapy and treatment are available for depressed seniors. Don’t forget to mention your concerns to your parent’s healthcare provider, or to the Ready Hands Home Care nursing supervisor who oversees your love one’s care.