One in five elderly people living in the community is living with depression. Although there has been some stigma attached to depression in the past, awareness and understanding of the condition has improved over recent years. Indeed, Depression Awareness Week and Mental Health Action Week take place in the UK every year to enhance society’s acceptance of depression and mental health issues.
All of this is good news for those elderly people who encounter such issues as more than 80% of people with depression can be helped with the appropriate treatment and the support of family, friends and carers. However, one has to understand the nature of depression in order to be able to spot and treat it.
What is depression?
Depression is an illness that causes people to experience intense feelings of sadness, inadequacy, pessimism and hopelessness. Along with these effects on an individual’s mental health, depression may lead to physical symptoms such as insomnia, a loss of energy, listlessness and aches and pains across the body.
Why do so many elderly people experience depression?
Loss is often a key factor in elderly people’s lives, for example the loss of a partner, the loss of full health, the loss of friends, the loss of mobility and independence. Understandably, this sense of loss is a key trigger of depression. There are also a number of health conditions prevalent amongst the elderly that can increase the likelihood of depression. These include heart problems, cancer, low thyroid activity and the after-effects of a stroke.
How can I spot the symptoms of depression in my elderly relative?
Keeping a close eye on your loved one can help you to spot the symptoms of depression. They may be extremely tired or listless and very sad all of the time. They may demonstrate a sudden lack of self-confidence or self-esteem and have difficulty concentrating. They may also retreat into their shell and shun social activities.
What help is available?
There is a wide range of treatments available for depression. What’s more, the earlier you spot the symptoms and get your loved one to a GP, the easier it will be to treat. Live-in care can be a real asset to an elderly person with depression, as they provide much-needed companionship. A live-in carer can also ease some of the practical burdens, such as housework and cooking, which may be exacerbating a depressive state in an elderly person.
In addition to the medication and therapies available via your doctor, you may also investigate positive thinking. Mindhealthdevelopment.co.uk offers help on positive thinking for those experiencing depression and mental health issues and trains carers for the UK’s leading live-in care organisations to help them promote positive thinking amongst the elderly people they look after.