Seniors have a high risk for developing depression as they get older. More than six million seniors are estimated to have symptoms of depression. Even though depression is considered a mental illness seniors with depression have an increased risk of developing other serious medical conditions like heart disease. Depression can cause other physical symptoms too like insomnia.
It can be difficult to tell if the symptoms that your senior loved one is experiencing are depression or another medical illness because the symptoms of depression mimic the symptoms of other health problems. Some of the symptoms of depression that you look for in your senior loved one include:
Loss Of Interest In Activities
If your senior loved one suddenly loses interest in things that they used to enjoy it could be due to depression. Your loved one may no longer want to go for walks or be active. Or they may no longer want to go shopping, out to eat, or to see friends. If they don’t have any desire to work on crafts they used to enjoy or talk to friends and family members on the phone you should make an appointment for your senior parent to see a psychologist to see if they could be developing depression. Loss of interest in life and social activities is a big red flag for seniors. If your senior has an elder care provider that cares for them during the week ask the provider to pay attention to any changes in your senior loved one’s desire to be active or social.
Changes In Eating Habits
If your senior loved one starts eating too much or eating too little that’s another big symptom of depression. An elder care provider is a great resource for keeping an eye on how much your senior loved one is eating. Any changes in appetite or eating should be a cause for concern because that could be due to a physical illness or a mental condition like depression. Lack of appetite or increased appetite could also be due to a change in medication so it’s important that your senior loved one see a doctor to figure out why their appetite has changed.
Changes In Sleeping Patterns
It can be very difficult to know if a senior’s insomnia is due to depression or other causes so a good rule of thumb is to consider what your senior loved one’s usual sleeping habits are. If your loved one normally has insomnia and starts sleeping all the time or if they normally sleep well but start having insomnia that change could be due to depression.
Feelings Of Hopelessness
When you’re talking with your senior parent pay attention to the words they choose. Do they talk about the future like next Christmas or next summer? Are they using generally positive or hopeful language? If they seem sad, listless, or hopeless that could be a cause for concern. If you think that they are acting differently than normal make an appointment for them to get evaluated.