Watch for These Signs of Depression in Senior Loved Ones

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Senior woman with sad expression

Be aware of the signs of depression that could present in senior loved ones.

Most people go through times when they simply want to be by themselves for a while with their thoughts, to sort out issues in their lives without any distractions, or just to experience some downtime. For older people, however, being isolated for an extended period of time might be indicative of a more concerning condition: depression.

At San Diego Home Caregivers, a provider of professional senior help in San Diego and nearby areas, our team has shared the journey through depression with many older adults, and we want to offer help. The most important first step is to contact the older person’s doctor right away if you believe he or she may be struggling with depression. Depression in seniors is treatable, and the sooner, the better.

Watch for these signs of depression in your senior loved ones:

  • Loss: A variety of kinds of loss can trigger depression or other medical concerns: losing weight, losing the desire to eat, a loss of self-worth, disinterest in activities or hobbies that were formerly enjoyed, or a reduction in time spent with family or friends.
  • Slowing Down: Notice if the older person’s movements or speaking have slowed down, if it takes the senior longer than usual to talk about or recall memories, or if drive or energy are reduced.
  • Sleeping Changes: Depression in seniors can have significant effects on sleep patterns, causing trouble with falling or staying asleep, issues with awakening, or struggles with being alert and awake for the duration of the day. 
  • Forgetfulness: Watch for differences in how the senior takes care of herself; for instance, if she was always careful about maintaining good personal hygiene and taking care with her appearance, but abruptly begins to ignore personal care, or any other critical changes like forgetting to take medicine, to eat a well-balanced diet, etc.

Various other medical conditions may also make depression worse. Be especially mindful if the senior has been affected by any of the following:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Thyroid conditions

If you suspect depression in a senior loved one, it’s crucial to take action and not to disregard it as something the senior will get over in time. Depression is a chronic medical condition that requires treatment in order to recover. 

And keep in mind, you are not alone! The caregivers of San Diego Home Caregivers are here to help older adults, and their family members, through senior depression or any other condition of aging. We’re experienced in providing caring, compassionate in-home services for older adults, offering friendly companionship to help encourage participation in exercise programs and social activities, to prepare appetizing, healthy meals, provide transportation to medical appointments and to run errands, and more. 

Reach out to us any time online or call us at (619) 487-9000 to learn more about our in home assistance in San Diego and the surrounding areas. Visit our Communities Served page for a full list of the areas where we provide care.

Understanding the Differences in Depression and Dementia

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Elderly woman looking out a window

Would you recognize if a senior loved one had depression or dementia?

Visiting Mom recently revealed a number of concerning signs. Though she has always been up and out of bed before 7 a.m., now it’s difficult to wake her before noon. Rather than going to great lengths to prepare an elaborate home-cooked meal, she would rather merely warm up a can of soup; and can barely finish a small bowlful. On top of that, she’s lost interest in enjoying time with her best friends from her knitting club. Could she be suffering from depression or dementia? 

There are a number of similarities between the two, like:

  • Eating and sleeping changes
  • Reduced interest in formerly enjoyed interests and hobbies, and spending time with others
  • Reduced memory and the ability to focus

There are, however, a number of distinguishing differences to help identify whether depression or dementia could be at play:

Dementia:

  • A slow, progressive decline in mental functioning
  • Noticeable problems with motor and/or language skills
  • Difficulty with memory, without being aware of these problems
  • Confusion in knowing the correct date, time, and surroundings

Depression:

  • A more rapid decline in mental functioning
  • Difficulties with concentration
  • A bit slower, but still normal motor and language abilities
  • Difficulty with memory issues, but being aware of the problem
  • Awareness of correct date, time and surroundings

Sometimes, both conditions can impact a person simultaneously. Brent Forester, MD, director of the mood disorders division in the geriatric psychiatry research program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, shares, “40 to 50% of people with Alzheimer’s disease get depression, but depression also may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.”

If you suspect either depression or dementia in a senior loved one, arrange for an appointment as soon as possible with his/her doctor. Receiving a correct diagnosis and beginning a treatment plan is imperative. 

Help for depression can include an antidepressant along with therapeutic counseling, or hospitalization if the difficulties are severe and require more intensive treatment. Dementia care usually involves medications that help with specific symptoms, like sleep problems, memory loss, or changes in behavior. 

If a senior you love has been diagnosed with either depression or dementia, or is struggling with any other difficulties of aging, San Diego Home Caregivers can help. With our skilled dementia care in La Mesa, CA and surrounding areas, we’re here for whatever specific needs your loved one is facing. Contact us online or at (619) 487-9000 for more information or to request a free in-home consultation.