Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly

By HealthSignz | Published: March 22nd, 2016

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Just like with children, physicians often fail to notice depression in the elderly, attributing its signs to the process of normal aging. Complications associated with aging may contribute to depression specifically in old age.

Symptoms of Depression in Old Age:

  • Anxiety, fatigue, irritability, sadness and worry
  • Abandoning or losing interest in hobbies or other pleasurable pastimes
  • Social withdrawal and isolation (reluctance to be with friends, engage in activities, or leaving the house)
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Slowed movement and speech
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Personal care issues (skipping meals, forgetting medicines, neglecting personal hygiene)
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Focus on aggravated/unexplained aches and pains rather than feelings of despair
  • Commonly express regret and remorse about past events 
  • Increased memory problems that may seem like Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness)
  • Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing)
  • Fixation on death, suicidal thoughts or attempts

Reasons for Depression in Old Age:

  • Health problems and illness and disability, cognitive decline, chronic or severe pain, surgery or disease
  • Loneliness and isolation due to widowhood or divorce and death of friends and family members
  • Decreased/Limited mobility due to illness or loss of driving privileges
  • Reduced sense of purpose or feelings of purposelessness or loss of identity due to retirement or physical limitations on activities
  • Financial hardships and anxiety over financial problems or health issues
  • Facing mortality that includes fear of death or dying

Solution for Depression in Old Age:

  • Be physically, mentally, and socially to feel better
  • Take the stairs, do light housework, or enjoy a short walk
  • Maintain a healthy diet that provides nourishment and energy.
  • Avoid eating too much sugar and junk food
  • Connect with others, face to face whenever possible. Build new friendships 
  • Get enough sleep. Aim for somewhere between 7-9 hours each night
  • Participate in activities you enjoy and pursue whatever hobbies you like
  • Take care of a pet. You will have company. Walking a dog can be a good exercise
  • Volunteer your time and help others to feel better about yourself
  • Learn a new skill that sparks your imagination and creativity
  • Learn new emotional management and emotional intelligence skills
  • Create opportunities to laugh. Read jokes, funny stories, books or watch a comedy

In patients over 60 years of age, interpersonal therapy significantly decreased depression as it dealt with issues such as fear, grief, loss and transitions.

About the author

HealthSignz

We are a team of professionals with a significant level of expertise spanning multiple disciplines for over four decades. Identifying health and wellness as the primary factors that drive liveliness in individuals, lead to the integration of our knowledge with our common values – the result is HealthSignz (HS). Driven by passion to contribute to the advancement of the happiness quotient and well being of communities as a whole, we are here to touch as many lives as possible by enriching them with HS.