There’s a normal ebb and flow to life that triggers emotional responses. When a child is born, new parents feel happy and excited. As life continues to progress, you celebrate achievements and enjoy new journeys. Occasional periods of sadness can be expected throughout seasons of life.
Depression is different from sadness, however. Due to missed social opportunities or medical conditions, the older population may be subject to depression and missed diagnosis. Assisted living facilities may aid in the prevention of depression among older adults. Courtyard Gardens is a Boynton Beach assisted living facility offering a fulfilling environment to combat depression related to aging.
Common Causes of Depression in the Elderly
For the most part, feeling the blues is caused by the same triggers regardless of age. While we commonly recognize the signs of depression when someone loses a job, we’re less keen on picking up the signs in an elderly person following retirement. Again, we recognize sadness and depression following the loss of a pet or loved one when we’re young, but we discount those same feelings in the elderly even though many are losing several members of their social network.
Some of the most common causes of depression include:
- Loss of Loved Ones
- Serious Illness
- Realization of Mortality
- Hospitalization or Long-Term Care Placement
Symptoms of Depression in the Aging Population
While there is no evidence that the aging process directly impacts the likelihood of depression, certain medical diagnoses associated with aging can also trigger the mental condition. Diseases that affect cognitive abilities, like Alzheimer’s, also increase feelings of depression.
Moreover, conditions such as stroke, heart disease, or injuries from falling can prevent a once-active person from enjoying a full and engaging lifestyle. The disengagement can lead to feelings of isolation or lack of involvement, which can trigger depressive states.
Roughly half of the older population has a comorbidity of at least two chronic health conditions. Unfortunately, many clinicians can overlook symptoms of depression as being related to the associated medical condition. While sadness and depression can have similar symptoms, be on the lookout for the following persistent warnings:
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
- Unexplained or worsening aches and pains
- Decreased appetite or weight loss
- Chronic sadness or hopelessness
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Slowed speech or movement
- Neglect of personal care
- Fixation on death
Changes in Lifestyle That Can Contribute to Depression
As people move into the Golden Years of life, you hope that it’s a season of celebration and fulfillment. However, many may feel isolated from loved ones due to living alone or not having access to social inclusion. Lifestyle changes can also cause depression.
People living alone and with infrequent visitors may look back on their life and ponder feelings of regret. The realization of unfulfilled dreams can weigh heavily on someone left unsupported. Moreover, the death of a loved one, such as a spouse or sibling, can trigger prolonged sadness.
Keeping your family member or loved one supported and engaged can dramatically decrease their likelihood of falling into depression. However, circumstances such as physical distance or other obligations, like child-rearing, may prevent daily interactions.
Geriatric Onset of Depression Symptoms is More Common Than You Might Think
While those with a history of depression are more likely to relapse as they face the challenges of their senior years, many seniors are diagnosed with depression for the very first time. Overall, the CDC estimates that depression affects less than 5% of the senior citizen population. However, for those who are affected, more than half may not recognize the symptoms of depression.
It’s important to understand that depression is not a normal part of aging. A sudden change in social habits or personal care is cause for concern. The caring staff at an assisted living facility can help you keep an eye on your aging family members, offering helpful intervention to combat the signs of depression.
Some things that may help include:
- Realistic Thinking
- Positive Childhood Memories
- Professional Therapy
- Healthy Lifestyle Habits
In many cases, depression is simply the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices or poor emotional coping mechanisms. The best way to feel better is often by adopting healthier habits or seeking professional therapy to help process the myriad of emotions that seniors face as they age.
Someone living in the golden years of their life should be celebrating a life lived colorfully. Nobody can stop the process of aging, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Assisted living facilities can combat common pitfalls associated with aging in place.
Assisted living facilities offer community and engagement. They also encourage activity in familiar hobbies as well as offer opportunities to try new things. At the same time, your loved one will receive personalized care for their ongoing health or physical needs from caring staff.