The Look of Depression- Seniors
Depression in later life frequently coexists with other medical illnesses and disabilities. Also, advancing age is often accompanied by loss of key social support systems due to the death of a spouse, siblings, or friends, retirement and/or relocation of residence. Depression tends to last longer in elderly adults. It also doubles their risk to develop cardiac diseases and increases their risk of death from illness, while reducing their ability to rehabilitate. Depression in the elderly is more likely to lead to suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health considers depression in people age 65 and older to be a major public health problem. In elderly men (over age 70) the suicide rate climbs, with the suicide rate more than twice that of the general population, peaking after age 85.
Check on your elderly loved ones. The elderly will often feel disconnected as they can no longer remain as active as they once were, as well as the other end of the spectrum of feeling like a burden on their caregiver. Talk with them about their feelings. Don’t be afraid to ask about how they feel. Be open and honest about what you are capable of and willing to do towards their care. When we feel safe and understood, mental illness severity declines and overall functioning increases.
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