As a family caregiver, you know that the mental health of your senior loved ones is crucial. In honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re taking a closer look at senior depression – a topic that often flies under the radar. Join us as we explore ways to recognize and overcome this challenge to ensure that your loved ones continue to lead a fulfilling and happy life.

The later years of life often bring challenges such as deteriorating senses, medical issues, and losing loved ones, making seniors more susceptible to depression. Approximately 20% of seniors experience depression, with higher rates in long-term care facilities. Despite its prevalence, only one in ten seniors receive treatment for it. Depression can seriously impact one’s quality of life and overall health. Accessible treatment options are available to help seniors and their caregivers manage and alleviate these symptoms.

Depression and Sadness

Depression in elderly individuals is often overlooked due to the misconception that it always involves feelings of sadness. Many depressed seniors do not report sadness but instead experience worsening physical pain. Social issues, such as the stigma surrounding mental illness and mistaking depression for grieving, can also hinder the treatment of depression in older adults.

Diagnosing Depression

To determine if a loved one has depression, seek professional help. Common symptoms include loss of interest in activities, daily depressed mood, weight changes, fatigue, indecisiveness, and fidgeting. Key risk factors for depression in the elderly include health problems, isolation, loss of loved ones, and a reduced sense of purpose after retirement. Chronic medical conditions may also contribute to or worsen depression symptoms.

Overcoming Depression

Regular exercise has been proven to be as effective as medications in alleviating depression, with even short walks contributing to mood improvement. In addition, engaging in social activities and interactions can also help combat depression. It is suggested to encourage those battling depression to participate in group activities, clubs, or volunteering opportunities.

Providing Help for Seniors

Untreated depression negatively impacts one’s quality of life and doesn’t disappear on its own. Supporting a loved one with depression by offering emotional support and encouraging treatment can help them lead a happy, fulfilling life.

Within the lively city of San Diego, a remarkable collection of organizations passionately dedicate themselves to helping those affected by senior depression. Among them are UC San Diego Health, Sharp, National Alliance on Metal Illness (NAMI), and The Neighborhood House Association’s Geriatric Specialty Program.

At Griswold Home Care for North San Diego, we think it’s crucial for seniors and adults with disabilities to have someone they can connect with and depend on for daily tasks. We offer companion care, which includes spending time talking and sharing memories or going with clients to visit family and friends. Age or health issues shouldn’t stop social activities. Companion care helps maintain connections and involvement while giving families peace of mind that their loved one has a reliable support system.

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