Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem, but is not often recognized or treated, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A number of life changes can increase the risk for depression, or make existing depression worse. Caring for a spouse or family member also can add to those feelings of depression. According to the NIH, some of the other changes and life events are:
Adapting to a move from home to an apartment or retirement facility
Feelings of isolation or loneliness as children move away and their spouse and close friends die
Loss of independence (problems getting around, caring for themselves, or driving)
Struggles with memory loss and problems thinking clearly
Look for the signs that an older loved one may be depressed and need help:
Being more confused or forgetful.
Eating less. The refrigerator may be empty or contain spoiled food.
Not bathing or shaving as often. Visitors may notice smells of urine or stool. Clothes may be dirty and wrinkled.
Not taking care of the home.
Stopping medicines or not taking them correctly.
Withdrawing from others. Not talking as much, and not answering the phone or returning phone calls.
The support of a CAREGiverSM from Home Instead Senior Care® can go a long way toward helping an older loved one who is depressed or suffering the strain of caring for a sick spouse or other family member.