Caring for the elderly with onsets of depression may become difficult not just for the elderly, but for their family as well. Members of the family are not always present to take care of their elders; some of them go to work, while others go to school.
There are many things that can trigger depression among elderly people, such as loneliness and hopelessness. While this is common to the elderly, this is not a part of the aging process. There are people, apart from their families, who can help them cope and pull themselves back up. Also, there are services such as 24 hour live in care available to somehow alleviate the loneliness that elders feel when left on their own.
Feelings of loneliness usually last a couple of hours and can be dealt with. But, if it is recurring and lasts for a long time, it could be depression. Contrary to popular belief, depression is not only prevalent among young people, but among the elderly as well. Depression in the elderly usually goes hand in hand with grief, other illnesses, and disabilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older people with depression “range from less than 1% to about 5%, but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.”
Factors That Contribute to Depression
There are a number of risks that could trigger and worsen depression in the elderly, such as grief, the absence of a support group such as friends and family, and diseases such as hypertension, dementia, and cancer. Other factors include depression running in the family, isolation, substance abuse, and failed suicide attempts.
Types of Depression Prevalent Among the Elderly
While there are different types of depression that exists, the two most common among the elderly are major depression and dysthymia.
Major depression usually interferes with the elderly’s capability to enjoy life, work, and study. Sometimes, it even interferes with sleep, putting them in a depression-induced insomnia.
The less severe, but longer lasting type of depression is dysthymia. People with this type of depression may have symptoms of it that could last for years, and proper functions may take a while before they go back to normal. Episodes of major depression can also occur a few times throughout a person’s life.
If you have a relative or a friend experiencing this, try to seek help immediately. Nothing is worse than watching a person you love’s mental state deteriorate right in front of you.