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Recognizing Depression in Seniors and How Assisted Living Can Help

Although depression occurs all too often among seniors, it is not a normal aspect of aging. Recognizing the risk factors for depression is essential in providing effective treatment. Depression is more than just feeling down – it is a serious, but treatable mood disorder. With the proper treatment, many people, including seniors, experience significant improvement.

Clinical Depression

People who struggle with basic daily activities, such as working or interacting with family and friends, who have difficulties with sleeping or eating for weeks at a time may be suffering from clinical depression. Clinical depression is also known as major depression. Serious illness, the death of a loved one or other significant life events can trigger clinical depression. Assisted Living can help people by offering medication management to ensure seniors are properly taking their medications.

Recognizing Depression in Older Adults

Older adults who experience depression often do not show the same symptoms as younger people. For instance, many older people may complain of fatigue or seem irritable rather than seeming or feeling sad. Depression may also be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders.

Medical Conditions Associated with Depression

Many older people take medications that may trigger depressive symptoms, or may suffer from depression along with cancer, heart disease or stroke. Depression also frequently occurs along with diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. In such cases, a physician can determine the most effective treatment for depression along with treating the accompanying medical condition.

Vascular Depression

Many adults suffer from ischemia or restricted blood flow from stiffened arteries. Ischemia prevents blood from flowing normally throughout the body – including the brain. The result can be vascular depression, which also presents a risk for heart disease or stroke.

“Although depression occurs all too often among seniors, it is not a normal aspect of aging.”

Other Depressive Disorders

Depressive symptoms that persist for two years or longer are categorized as persistent depressive disorder. Symptoms may qualify as clinical depression. Psychotic depression is depression combined with psychosis such as schizophrenia. Seasonal Affective Disorder is common in colder climates with long periods of cloudy or overcast skies.

Treatments for Depression

Depression may be treated with cognitive mental exercises or “talk” therapy, medication or a combination of the three. Older adults who may be taking other medications must take special care when adding antidepressants to their treatment regimen.

Assisted Living communities such as Westwind do monthly resident vitals, weight checks and nurse assessment. We will alert families and doctors about significant resident health changes should they arise.

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