Aging and Depression in the Elderly Living in New York City
As you or your loved ones get older, many changes: deaths or long illnesses, retirement, or moving may contribute to heightened stress or grief. Feeling unhappy is a natural reaction to difficult situations. After a period of time, many older adults feel well again, but dealing with depression is different. It is a medical condition that interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It is not a normal part of aging, a sign of weakness, or a character flaw. Many older adults with depression need treatment to feel better.
In older adults, depression is often mis- or un-diagnosed, due to the fact that as we age, symptoms may not materialize as sadness or melancholy. In fact, a major symptom of depression in older adults is to show a lack of interest or involvement in activities that they once enjoyed.
According to the National Institute of Health, some common symptoms of depression among older adults may include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or unintended weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment.
Risk Factors for Depression in the Elderly
Although most cases of depression are diagnosed in young adults, depression can occur at any age. Certain people are at a higher risk for developing depression.
If you are an older adult, you may be at a higher risk if you:
- Are female
- Have a chronic medical illness, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease
- Have a disability
- Sleep poorly
- Are lonely or socially isolated
- You may also be at a higher risk if you:
- Have a personal or family history of depression
- Use certain medications
- Suffer from a brain disease
- Misuse alcohol or drugs
- Have experienced stressful life events such as loss of a spouse, divorce, or taking care of someone with a chronic illness
How to find help for Elderly Depression in NYC:
If you think that you or a loved one may have depression, it is important to seek treatment. A person with depression cannot simply “snap out of it”—it is a medical condition that affects your quality of life. Depression can also lead to suicide, particularly if left untreated, and you are more likely to develop a physical illness if you have depression. *
Sometimes an Alvita Care home health care companion can help by communicating with an elderly person with depression or prevent it from recurring.
The good news is that, in most cases, depression is treatable in older adults. The right treatment may help improve your overall health and quality of life. If you feel like you or a loved one may have any or many of these symptoms, discuss it with your primary caregiver or mental health professional. There are many different kinds of treatments, the effectiveness of which differ from patient to patient.
At Alvita Home Care in NYC and Long Island, we know how important a healthy mind can be to recovery. Sometimes it just takes a helping hand in the room to spur positive action. Please call us at (212) 273-0490 to discuss setting up care services for you or your loved one. We can’t wait to meet you!
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