About 6 million, or 13 percent, of older Americans experience depression but, according to WebMD, only one in 10 of them receive treatment.
Depression in people age 65 and older is fairly common, and the National Institute of Mental Health regards it a major public health problem. However, it shouldn’t be considered normal. In fact, most seniors live full, happy and satisfied lives. But those with symptoms of depression should be encouraged to seek treatment from a physician, just as they would for diabetes or hypertension.
Depression during the senior years
With advancing age, seniors may lose a spouse or close friends who have been a key part of their social support system. Such changes in relationships, along with physical or medical changes, can contribute to depression.
Older adults with one or more chronic health conditions are at increased risk for depression. But while receiving adequate treatment for the chronic conditions, they may not be diagnosed and treated for the related depression. A delay in treatment leads to unnecessary suffering.
Family members should be alert to signs of depression in their senior loved ones. WebMD lists common symptoms, including feelings of hopelessness and guilt, irritability, loss of interest in favorite activities, lack of energy and fatigue, lack of concentration, insomnia or excessive sleeping, and overeating or loss of appetite.
Because depression can also be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease, family members should be aware of other symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including difficulties with remembering, apathy, impaired communication, poor judgment, disorientation, confusion and behavioral changes.
Senior communities can help relieve depression
A community lifestyle, like that offered by Country Meadows Retirement Communities, improves the mental health of many seniors because socializing helps reduce the sense of isolation that can lead to depression. In addition, volunteer opportunities within senior living communities can help because volunteering provides a positive environment, fellowship with others and a personal sense of accomplishment. We invite you to read about the benefits of socialization at a retirement community.
For some residents, simply having the comfort of knowing concerned neighbors and staff are nearby decreases their anxiety and depression. This is true of those living in our senior independent living communities as well as those in our personal care and assisted living homes. And with routine household responsibilities handled for them by caring staff, our seniors are free to pursue hobbies and make new friends.
For Country Meadows residents whose depression is related to dementia, our Connections Memory Support Services program is available to assist them with coping with the challenges of memory loss.
If you’re planning an active retirement in a Pennsylvania retirement community or Maryland retirement community, we hope you will tour one or more of our senior living communities, where you will find residents with full lives in a family-oriented, caring environment. Country Meadows has 10 retirement communities in Pennsylvania as well as a Frederick, Maryland retirement home. Please schedule a visit so that we can acquaint you with our vast array of services.