At any age, people have days when they are feeling especially upbeat and those when they are feeling down. However, depression is more than just having an off day or feeling sad sometimes, it is a condition that can be challenging to determine in senior adults. One benefit of being a part of the comprehensive care community at Arbors of Hop Brook is that our team of medical professionals and trained caregivers are available to support and monitor your overall wellness or that of a loved one. In this post, we share potential signs of depression in seniors and highlight ways to potentially nourish the mental health of senior adults.
Signs of Depression in Seniors
Only a medical professional can diagnose depression and provide the necessary course of treatment. However, seeing one of the potential signs of depression in seniors may indicate that it’s time for an appointment with a primary care physician or other healthcare specialist, especially since these symptoms can also stem from other health complications or prescription use. Remember: they do not just simply appear because of a higher number of candles on a senior’s birthday cake. Most importantly and as emphasized by the CDC, senior adults may have an “increased risk for experiencing depression”, but this condition is treatable! While symptoms of depression may vary for each person, here are some common potential signs of depression:
- A sense of numbness or disconnectedness
- Feeling helpless or worthless
- Increased anxiety, ongoing irritability or continuous fidgeting
- Disinterest in hobbies or social engagement
- Lack of energy or slowed movements or speech
- Difficulty remembering or focusing
- Weight changes, stomach issues or extreme variation in sleep habits (not sleeping or sleeping most of the time)
- Regularly thinking about or talking about death or suicide
Potential Ways to Help Seniors With the Risk Factors for Depression
According to the National Institute on Aging, there are many “factors related to the risk of depression, but [they do] not necessarily cause depression” in seniors. However, familiarity with these factors can help mitigate potential concerns and facilitate earlier professional intervention if necessary. The following highlights how being part of an assisted living community may be beneficial in helping to address and monitor mental and emotional health needs.
- Wellness Support: As shared by Health Matters in conjunction with the NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare network, people struggling with chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease or other medical issues may develop depression. Additionally, some medications may increase feelings of depression or symptoms that are similar to this condition. By being aware of this correlation, seniors and their care teams may be better able to monitor or intervene with additional care and treatment. At an assisted living location, there will be more frequent assessment of wellness than there may be if individuals are living on their own or are otherwise without ongoing supervision or check-ins from health care professionals. As part of your evaluation of potential assisted living communities, be sure to ask about how depression and other mental health care needs are addressed in addition to any physical accommodations and medication management.
- Social Engagement: Research available through the National Library of Medicine emphasizes the importance of social engagement in relation to senior health, including reducing the risk of depression. One need only look at an assisted living location’s community calendar to check out the daily opportunities for this kind of interaction. Since feelings of isolation are a significant risk factor for depression, prioritizing engagement can be a helpful way to mitigate the potential for depression in seniors. Looking for the right retirement community for you? Inquire about the available senior assisted living activities. Want to become more involved in your existing community? Enjoy the many health benefits of crafts with fellow residents.
- Increased Access to Activities: Engagement in senior hobbies can have a meaningful impact on an individual’s mental and physical health. Unfortunately, due to transportation difficulties or limitations, prioritizing fall prevention and other concerns, participating in these activities may become a greater challenge in one’s older years. Fortunately, the amenities and wellness programming in an assisted living community like Arbors of Hop Brook provide increased accessibility to these crucial opportunities for enjoyment and socialization. In addition to scheduled transportation to medical appointments, residents can enjoy community trips to local restaurants or musical performances in their own auditorium. Exercise classes and game times are often available on a daily basis and can be personalized for seniors’ unique mobility needs or other health accommodations.
Do you have an elderly mother who is never happy? Are you wondering if the changes you noticed over the holidays aren’t signs of aging but rather an indication of a more significant mental health concern? Take action to address potential symptoms of depression in seniors today. If you are concerned that you or someone you love may be struggling with feelings of depression or other sensitive issues, this resource from the National Institute on Aging may help to address these topics with a doctor. As a member of a continuing care retirement community like Arbors, consider asking what customized or general support exists to help address the potential risk factors for depression. For more information about the community at Arbors of Hop Brook, contact us or schedule a tour!