Sad, Confused and Tired - Depression Among the Elderly

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posted by Ryan Whittington on September 07, 2011

When people begin to age and become unable to take care of themselves, it can take over and quickly become depression. The rate of elderly people in the United States is growing rapidly making healthcare for senior citizens one of the highest medical costs. Depression and seniors is not a good mix, and it can cause a lot of other problems all over their body and can even cause premature death.

When a loved one becomes depressed people often urge them to seek help, and medication. People often do not think of the elderly becoming depressed, but it happens more frequent than you think. As we age we become unable to drive, cook, clean, and become very lonely. When depression in seniors takes over they are less likely to stay active, take their medications, and often do not eat properly. To a normal person these issues might not make a huge difference, but senior citizens bodies are fragile.

When an elderly relative or friend becomes less active they can often stay in bed, or in the same chair on a daily basis. Their skin is so thin that too much pressure can cause the tissue to break down, causing bed sores. Often people only think of these issues with geriatric nursing home patients who cannot walk. If depression and seniors is severe enough, they can lay in bed in the same position only moving to use the restroom or grab something to eat. This continuous pressure on the same area can cause bed sores. Bed sores are hard to heal, very painful, and can cause severe infections that can be fatal.

Medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and heart problems are some of the most commonly prescribed medications for senior citizens. They need to be taken as prescribed or else they will not work effectively endangering their life. Sometimes depression in seniors can lead them to forgetting to take their medications for days, even weeks at a time. This means that conditions go untreated, and for patients with high blood pressure, and diabetes this can be fatal within a few days.

Everyone needs to eat to keep up their weight, and remain in good health. This is no different for elderly people, and like with younger adults depression can cause a lack of appetite. Senior citizens rely heavily on food for energy, and will become very weak without the proper hydration and nutrition.

Depression and seniors is extremely bad, so if you have an elderly loved one in your life it is best to watch for the signs of depression.

These signs of depression include:

  • Staying in bed for long periods of time.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Soiled clothing and unpleasant odors.
  • Home has fallen into disrepair.
  • Lack of socialization.
  • Confusion and Anxiety

Ways to work towards a solution for depression include:

  • Introducing a caregiver on a regular basis for socialization
  • Make a doctors visit for a checkup
  • Arrange to speak with a professional geriatric psychiatrist
  • Consider hiring a professional home care agency to perform home care tasks such as medication management, personal care and light housekeeping.

Talk to your senior and tell them you would like them to consider these things.  As a compliment to the above recommendations, you may consider having a professional evaluation from a psychiatrist.  In many cases, this evaluation is paid for by Medicare and can be performed in the home.  While you won’t be able to prevent them from being depressed, you can help them get out of it.

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Advocacy and Education and Health

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