When a person is depressed, they may have problems with sleep, moods, general outlook on life or even their ability to have social interaction with others. Depression affects millions of people, and many times the signs and symptoms of depression can be clear, especially in children or adults. Unfortunately, these same symptoms can be seen in the elderly, but are often mistaken as symptoms of other physical issues or medications taken, due to the age of the patient.
Depression can be a life-long battle, situational, or anywhere in-between. For an elder, the loss of independence, mobility, health, career, or a loved one can bring on, or exacerbate depression. The problem with many of these issues is that the physical health of the individual takes precedence over the emotional in many situations, leaving the person to battle their own sadness or ignore their own emotions and possibly making it harder for them to control their physical illnesses. Isolation is another factor that can add to depression, especially when the senior is only social with a few friends battling similar physical issues, a Geriatric Nurse or other family members. With mobility issues, seniors have a hard time finding places to go or even getting there, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and abandonment.
The National Institutes of Health reports that out of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older, close to 2 million suffer from full-blown depression, while another 5 million report less severe forms of the illness. Seniors who face depression may not even recognize the problem in their own lives. Fatigue and general malaise are often overlooked as a product of age, and while that may be the case with many elderly men and women, depression can also explain these issues. Being properly diagnosed and treated for such a medical issue can make a big difference in the quality of life of our elder generation.