Depression is defined as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection” that can last for a prolonged period. While it’s sometimes difficult to diagnose, you should know that it isn’t uncommon in seniors. In fact, it’s a serious issue that we shouldn’t take lightly.
Understanding the Common Symptoms of Depression
Some people mistake the symptoms as a fleeting emotion that will soon pass. However, if you notice any of these symptoms lasting for a prolonged period, you should get your loved one help immediately:
- Difficulty concentrating
- The inability to make decisions
- Fatigue or less energy than usual
- Feelings of emptiness, guilt, worthlessness, sadness, anxiousness, pessimism, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Sleep disturbances including insomnia, waking earlier than usual, or sleeping excessively
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies they once pleasurable
- Either overeating or losing their appetite
How to Help Someone with Depression
When you notice someone is experiencing these symptoms, consider whether they may have depression. It’s not something you can help them with or change for them, but you can be a good friend and encourage them to seek professional help.
Discussing their feelings is rarely helpful. In fact, it can make them feel worse. They may even grow angry with you in your attempts to help. Of course, if this is someone you have a close relationship with, you should ask them what’s bothering them. You don’t want to be persistent or aggressive though. Simply let them know you’re there to talk when they’re ready.
What can be quite helpful is:
- Getting your able-bodied homebound senior outdoors where they can interact with other people
- Doing some light exercises like water aerobics – check with their doctor to make sure this is permissible for them first
- Contacting a medical professional who has extensive experience working with depressed, elderly patients
- Talking to their doctor to see if there’s any health-related information that could be causing their depression
Tips for the Care Giver
Depression is challenging for you to watch your loved one experience. You must maintain a watchful eye and a caring heart so you can stop it from getting worse. At the same time, you can’t quickly jump to the assumption that they’re depressed. This means you can’t ask them too many personal questions either. Instead, it’s important to understand that some of the symptoms are simply the result of aging. You also shouldn’t ever give your senior loved one any medication that isn’t prescribed by their doctor. Doing so could cause even worse consequences and even get you into legal trouble.
Hearing Loss and Depression
A study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) shows that more than 11 percent of those with hearing loss also had depression, as opposed to only 5 percent in the general population. Depression was most prevalent in those between the ages of 18 and 69.
“We found a significant association between hearing impairment and moderate to severe depression,” said Dr. Chuan-Ming Li, a researcher at NIDCD and the author of the study.
When you notice that your loved one’s having problems with their hearing, contact us at Countryside Hearing Aid Services. While you may be surprised to learn this, some older people don’t realize they’re suffering from hearing loss and others simply think it’s a natural part of aging. Unfortunately, both can add to the feelings of depression, which is why you should try to help them solve this issue as soon as possible. With this in mind, please know that we’re here to help, so contact us today.
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