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Recognizing Depression in the Elderly


Depression affects at least 65 million Americas age 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment, simply because depression in the elderly looks different from that of a younger person.

If your elderly loved one is exhibiting any of these signs below, please talk to their doctor immediately to have them evaluated for depression:

1. Negative Thoughts

Your mom confesses to you that she feels like a burden. In addition, she keeps bringing up her death, and it seems like something she just can't stop talking about.

2. Weight Loss

Perhaps you notice your dad's favorite shirt is starting to look loose on him, and he says he's just not that hungry these days. Even on special days, such as Thanksgiving, he just picks at his plate, hardly eating anything at all, and even passes on his favorite pumpkin pie.

3. Sadness

Perhaps your grandmother is suddenly crying all the time, and says she just can't shake the sadness. Even talking on the phone to her favorite grandson doesn't cheer her up anymore.

4. Increased Use of Alcohol or Drugs

Your mom was never really a heavy drinker. But at your last dinner together, she drank several glasses of wine. Or some of the stronger pain medications are disappearing faster, and she isn't sure what happened to them.

5. Isolation or Abandoning Hobbies

Perhaps your dad used to go to the country club every other day to play golf and swim, but lately all he wants to do is stay home and watch tv alone.

6. Difficulty Sleeping

Your mom complains she just can't sleep at night, but she has a hard time keeping her eyes open that afternoon you are with her. Not sleeping enough or even oversleeping are both possible signs of depression.

7. Fatigue

Your mom used to spend every day in her garden. But lately, her roses are dying, and she says she just doesn't have the energy to go out there anymore.

Not all of these signs indicate depression. But if your loved one has several of these signs, it might be time to talk to their doctor and get professional help. Sometimes depression can be the underlying cause for a long list of other ailments. If you need some help getting your loved one to the doctor, or help with night care or errand running, our Kind Companions are always available to help.


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