Irritable, drained, crotchety, forgetful. If some of these adjectives apply to an elderly friend or relative, contemplate another term: depressed.
By some estimates, depression is experienced by at least 1 in 10 elderly adults, and the rates of depression increase as their freedom falls. The greatest incidence of depression among the elderly occurs in nursing homes and hospitals.
Elderly adults may face several barriers in getting help with depression, including:
- Trouble obtaining a precise diagnosis
- Trouble complying with treatment or receiving therapy
Depression is often misdiagnosed and commonly goes unrecognized among the elderly. While lots of people believe suicide to be chiefly a problem in teenagers, it’s actually more common in the elderly, particularly in old, white males. Unfortunately, 70 percent of elderly people who kill themselves see their doctor in a month prior to the suicide, which implies that some chances for identifying depression are missed.
Is My Loved One Depressed?
Ascertaining if your elderly loved one is depressed can be demanding for you personally both. Lots of people have trouble identifying signs of depression within their relatives.
“I have many family caregivers who I’ve seen in the past who said, ‘I did not know my mother, dad, or spouse was depressed — I only believed they were being ornery or indolent, pessimistic, irritable, whatever,'” notes therapist Maria P. Aranda, PhD, LCSW, associate professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work and Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles. It’s not until later that family members understand their elderly loved ones are now depressed, adds Aranda.
Getting help with melancholy is a challenge for many older adults and their health professionals. Aranda points out that many seniors possess a stigma against seeking mental health help, so that it may be difficult for health professionals to convince them to get screened and diagnosed for depression. Aranda recommends:
- Put yourself in their shoes. Think about what is going on in your elderly relative’s life that may cause depression. Elderly adults face a lot of changes like the passing of loved ones, moving to new places, and melancholy-inducing health issues including heart attack and stroke.
- Ask your loved one to be talked to by a trusted adult about getting help with melancholy. Pick a relative who is calm and has the ability to listen and present information clearly.
- Set some of the physical complaints into context. “People with depression are enduring,” points out Aranda. Sometimes recognizing that their unexplained headaches, dearth of appetite, stomach discomfort, or sleep difficulties could be related to a treatable condition like depression is a relief, she says.
- Before leaving acute care, get an assessment. If an elderly relative is in the hospital for a heart attack, stroke, injury, or other health state, that is an ideal time to ask for a depression evaluation — and starting depression treatment before discharge has truly been proven to improve health outcomes.
Treatment Hurdles for Older Blue Individuals
Even after an exact analysis, getting help may not be easy. “Many older adults don’t get the degree of melancholy care or treatment that’s considered evidence based, which translates into quality care,” says Aranda.
Hurdles to care for depression in the elderly include:
- Price of medication. Many elderly adults need to select between which medications they can afford, and several choose to let antidepressants slide.
- Cost of treatment. Reimbursement rates for mental health services for aged adults who want help with depression are less than perfect, notes Aranda, which means aged adults can face problems locating mental health providers or paying for care.
- Drugs compliance. Keeping up with the drugs aged adults need to take could be challenging, and health professionals may need to help design a system to remind them to take their medicine.
On a closing note, Aranda points out that depression runs in families. Health professionals can also be depressed, so it is very important to take care of yourself as you seek help with melancholy for your elderly family member.