We all feel sad occasionally, that’s part of life. If those sad feelings continue for weeks or months or interfere with your daily life, you or your loved one might be experiencing depression. Many older adults experience depression, but this mood disorder is not a normal part of aging.
Signs of depression might be different in older adults than those for younger people. So how do you know if your loved one is depressed? We have 3 major signs to look for when assessing a senior’s mental health:
1. Cognitive Decline
If your loved one is having difficulty concentrating, focusing, making decisions, remembering, and completing simple tasks, they might be suffering from depression. Since this type of cognitive decline is similar to early stages of dementia, however, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference. Talking with your loved one and their healthcare provider can help.
2. Alterations in Personality or Emotions
Persistent feelings of excessive sadness, hopelessness, or guilt are often a red flag that a senior is struggling. Feeling anxious or “empty” is also common in depression in older adults. If your loved one has lost pleasure and interest in activities that they previously enjoyed, you should take note. Some seniors become irritable or restless when they are depressed.
3. Significant Physical Changes
Gaining or losing weight without planning to, loss of appetite, sleeping too much or too little, moving or talking slowly, and reduced energy can all signal depression. If you notice these types of changes, especially when accompanied by cognitive or emotional symptoms, a doctor should evaluate your loved one.
What Risk Factors Can Increase Chances of Depression?
Researchers have noted several risk factors that increase the chances a senior might become depressed, including:
- Genetics – a personal or family history of depression
- Sleep deprivation – not getting 7 or more hours of quality sleep per night
- Physical inactivity – lack of exercise or participation in enjoyable activities
- Loneliness and social isolation – feeling cut off from friends and loved ones
- Low or limited mobility – physical limitations that limit independence
- Health issues – Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, etc.
How to Help a Loved One Struggling With Depression
What should you do if you notice these signs and think your loved one is depressed? Talk to your loved one about your concerns. Make an appointment with their doctor for a check-up and mental health assessment. If possible, have your loved one assessed by a mental health expert as well. It’s important to get help and not try to address these issues alone. Participate as much as possible in activities with your loved one that they enjoy, especially physical activities. Physical activity alone has many mood-boosting benefits.
Assisted Living Benefits for Senior Mental Health
Although it might not be possible to completely prevent depression from occurring, you can take steps to lower your risk. In fact, assisted living communities, like the Mission at Agua Fria, provide many amenities that benefit senior mental health.
- Onsite wellness and therapy centers make it easy to stay physically active.
- Nutritious, chef-prepared meals help you maintain a healthy diet.
- Social activities, excursions, onsite theater, game room, and enrichment programs mean you can meet new friends and enjoy activities with other seniors instead of struggling with isolation, loneliness, and boredom.
If you are looking for assisted living or memory care options in Peoria, Arizona, contact us today to schedule a tour. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Learn more about what sets us apart and how we can help you enjoy life again!