Depression in the Elderly

Depression is common in adults of advanced age, for sale affecting about 6 million Americans. Despite the commonness of this condition, only approximately ten percent of affected seniors receive treatment for Depression. This may be because adults of advanced age experience Depression differently than their younger counterparts.

In the elderly, troche Depression often occurs concurrently with other illnesses or disabilities, and lasts longer. Depression in the elderly does not only impact quality of life; it may cause serious physical complications. Depression nearly doubles an elderly person’s risk of developing cardiac disease, which in turn increases risk of dying of cardiac disease. Furthermore, Depression inhibits a person’s ability to rehabilitate from an illness or injury. Perhaps the most alarming danger is that Depression increases the risk of suicide, especially in elderly white men. Studies show that suicide rates in people aged between 80 and 84 are approximately double that of the rest of population. If you suspect a loved one in advanced age is suffering Depression, it is crucial to encourage them to get help.

Physical illness increases the risk of the onset of Depression, but there are other risk factors that leave a person more susceptible. Elderly women who are without a life partner are at an increased risk. Stressful life events and/or the lack of a social support system also increase risk. Additional risk factors may include:

  • Family history

  • Fear of death

  • Presence of chronic pain

  • Previous history of Depression

  • Recent loss of a loved one

  • Substance abuse

Depression in the elderly does not necessarily present as sadness. While many Depression sufferers of advanced age do experience sadness, many Depressed seniors claim to experience no sadness at all. So what are some of the red flags that might indicate an elderly loved one is struggling with Depression?

  • Feeling of low self-worth

  • Feeling like a burden on their loved ones

  • Unexplained or intensified aches and pains

  • Anxiety

  • Memory loss

  • Fatigue; loss of motivation

  • Slowed movement and/or speech

  • Irritability

  • Loss of interest in socializing or previously enjoyed hobbies

  • Neglecting personal care – skipping meals, forgetting medications, neglecting personal hygiene


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