Understanding Depression Among the Elderly

Treating Depression Among Seniors

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

Depression is the most common mental health problem among seniors. Anywhere from one to five percent of seniors experience depression, although this rate increases to 13.5 percent for seniors who need home care in Cincinnati. Depression is more common in seniors who have an illness or limited function and about half of older people have two or more chronic conditions. Unfortunately, less than 40 percent of seniors consider depression a real health problem and more than half think it’s a normal part of aging.

The truth is depression does not need to come with age and it can be treated. Without treatment, seniors with depression are at a higher risk of suicide and a reduced quality of life.

Common Symptoms of Depression

Do not ignore the following symptoms of depression in yourself or a loved one. Some of these symptoms in seniors may be the result of a health condition or medication, although it’s important to listen to a loved one’s concerns or complaints.

  • Irritability

  • Social withdrawal

  • Changes in appetite

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities

  • Frequent feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

  • Sleeping too much or insomnia

  • Chronic pain with no known cause that doesn’t improve with treatment

Treatment Options for Seniors

Depression is a very treatable health condition. In fact, over 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with therapy, medication, or both. If your loved one has symptoms of depression, a doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Antidepressants to improve mood, sleep, and appetite among seniors.

  • Psychotherapy, which can be an effective treatment and can be used with or without medication.

  • Social activities, which have been found to help alleviate depression. According to a study published in 2014, people who frequently talk with or associate with a social group show improvement in treatment for depression.

  • Changes in diet and exercise can also improve symptoms. Seniors may try light aerobic and strength-training exercises to combat depression.

It’s not uncommon for seniors to experience feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression, especially if loved ones live far away or if they aren’t as mobile as they used to be. If you’re concerned about your senior loved one, reach out to Home Care Assistance. In addition to companionship and emotional support, our caregivers can help with everyday tasks like cooking and running errands. To learn more about our care services, including dementia and Alzheimer’s care in Cincinnati, give us a call at 513.891.2273 and speak with a friendly Care Manager.