Recognizing Depression in the Elderly during the Holidays

depression in the elderlyIt is important that not only those in the healthcare industry recognize and understand the signs of depression in the elderly, it is important that family members are also aware of these signs. This concern is heightened even more during the holidays. It is commonly known as holiday depression or holiday blues.

As family members and friends spend more time with seniors, they should be aware of signs their loved one may be suffering with depression. In fact, seniors suffer with depression more often than the public is aware of. The problem can quickly escalate because seniors are often misdiagnosed. Depression in the elderly is often diagnosed as malnutrition, dementia and other health issues.

The Causes of Depression

During the holiday season, seniors are reminded of previous memories, and maybe even times when they were happier. The loss of a spouse, moving into a nursing facility or a change in their daily routine can be some of the causes of depression.

Medical issues can also cause depression. Being in chronic pain, dealing with complications from an illness or even memory impairment can cause a senior to become depressed. An improper diet that is lacking proper vitamins and minerals can also cause depression.

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Change in behavior
  • Obsession with death
  • Suicidal thoughts

The Difference between Dementia and Depression

Although the symptoms of dementia and depression are similar, there are some differences. In depression, the mental decline is rapid, but motor skills and awareness remain normal.

The symptoms of dementia include a more gradual mental decline along with confusion and less awareness of a familiar environment. Speaking and writing along with motor skills are affected, and the loss of memory is not recognized as being an issue with the senior.

If depression in the elderly is affecting someone you love, it is critical that you take the initiative to alleviate the depression your loved one is dealing with during the holidays. The treatment can be as simple as providing companionship for your loved one, or getting them involved in social activities. For cases that are more severe, medication and/or therapy may be recommended as effective treatment options.

Is your elderly family member dealing with depression this holiday season? Contact us to learn more about our companionship services.