How to Cope with a Loved One Dealing with Late Life Depression
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 15% of people aged over 65 in the U.S. battle depression. The numbers are even higher in nursing homes and hospitals. But late-life depression isn’t only happening in the U.S. A cross-sectional study (n=28,796, mean age 74) found that this type of depression affected 35 percent of Southern Europeans. The same research revealed that 32% in Central Europe and 26% in Eastern and Western Europe had depression. Luckily, the condition is treatable.
What’s Late-Life Depression?
A person experiencing normal sadness typically can perform daily activities without a problem. But that’s not the case with depression patients. With this condition, the sufferer wrestles a range of symptoms that negatively affect their ability to function normally.
Unlike normal sadness, this type of depression usually carries on for prolonged periods. If symptoms persist past the second week, the person most likely battles the disorder.
How Common is Late-Life Depression?
As noted in the opening paragraph, it affects 15 percent of all Americans aged 65 and above. That means 2 out of 10 elderly people in the U.S. are going through this situation. Doesn’t that sound like a common condition? It is, and these people need support to overcome the disorder.
If a loved one has this problem, chances are you won’t even know. In fact, they too might not know they’re depressed. But you’ll sure notice some of the symptoms. It’s critical for the family to show empathy and unconditional love to loved ones dealing with this difficulty.
What Are the Strongest Risk Factors for Late-Life Depression?
The illness results from certain biochemical changes in the brain. These changes are typically associated with old age. In other words, an older person is more likely to have the disorder than a younger one.
The following are some of the strongest risk factors for late-life depression. People with serious or chronic illnesses such as arthritis face an increased risk of depression. Heart disease, stroke, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease also increase one’s vulnerability.
Similarly, a senior who’s lost a loved one might experience this type of depression. Genetics may also determine to some extent who gets the disorder and who doesn’t. It’s easy for loved ones to confuse the patient’s condition with normal grief.
13 Symptoms of Depression in the Elderly
The following are common symptoms seen in depressed seniors. Be observant so you can easily identify them and help the patient however you can.
- Weight changes
- Sleeping problems
- Crying often
- Extreme sadness
- The patient paces and fidgets
- Worrying excessively about health and money
- The patient feels slowed down
- Experiencing feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
- The patient has trouble concentrating on any one thing
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Withdrawing from the social scene
- May neglect personal appearance
Have You Noticed Any of These Signs?
The family should keep talking to those going through this situation. They should encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling.
Often, the patient won’t admit they’re depressed. If you ask how they are, they might say, “I don’t have the energy anymore.” Or they might say, “I’m not feeling well enough.” Or, more often, “It’s too much trouble.”
Also, they may cook and eat less. Make sure to have your loved one eat properly every day. Help them prepare their favorite meals. Eat with them and listen just in case they have concerns for which they might need some support.
In some cases, a depressed senior may “forget” to take care of themselves. Someone who’s usually neat and well-dressed may start showing less and less interest in improving their outward appearance. If you see these signs, take action. Have them visit an expert that focuses on elderly people.
Note: Don’t assume your loved ones are depressed just because they have these symptoms. The symptoms might as well be for an entirely different illness or disorder. For that reason, it’s best to consult a mental health professional as early as possible.
Is the Disorder Treatable?
According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 80 percent of depressed seniors respond well to treatment. No one should endure this situation thinking it’s happening just because they’re 65 or older.
Proper treatment starts with correctly diagnosing the disease. That’s where finding a qualified and experienced mental health professional comes in. Everyone on our staff is a competent expert in all things mental health. We’ve helped many elderly take back the reins of their life. We’ll help your loved one if you’ll let us.
Is Medication Always the Best Way to Treat Late-Life LLD?
Many people think that the pharmacological treatment of depression is the only effective way to treat mental illness. Psychotherapy is effective for depression and anxiety, too. Research recommends both medication and psychotherapy when it comes to treating LLD.
Do Any Supplements or Nutrients Reduce the Risk of Late-Life Depression?
Possibly, yes. A growing body of evidence shows that elderly people benefit immensely from daily protein consumption. Protein intake of dietary protein and amino acids may suppress the risk factors associated with cognitive decline. At least, that’s what this study finds.
In other words, consistent protein consumption may somewhat slow down the risk factors for depression. However, that’s not to say that protein supplements will help prevent depression in the elderly.
Help Your Loved One Find a Psychiatrist; But Why a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are arguably the best medical professionals when it comes to treating this disorder. These experts may prescribe antidepressants or recommend any other effective pharmacological treatment. Usually, though, psychiatrists and other professionals couple antidepressant medications with psychotherapy when treating LLD.
But why hire a psychiatrist rather than a different medical professional to restore your loved one to mental health? It’s because this kind of depression is a psychiatric disorder. According to NCBI, LLD is the “second most common psychiatric disorder.” It’s almost always best to see a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists aren’t just therapists. They’re thoroughly trained medical professionals that focus on mental illness. So, consult a qualified psychiatrist near you. Or request an evaluation from us now. Our doctors recommend effective treatments for late-life depression so your loved one can start smiling again.
Need to Consult with a Psychotherapist?
Qualified psychiatrists at Novum Psychiatry diagnose and treat all types of depression. Stop guessing whether your loved one is dealing with depression. Instead, contact us or request an evaluation.