Depression in seniors can be difficult to detect because noticeable changes in a senior’s behavior, appearance, demeanor, or cognitive abilities can be caused by a variety of factors. For example, perhaps your mother has been unusually quiet and withdrawn lately after her closest friend passed away. While her changes in behavior and demeanor could be signs of depression, she may just be going through the normal grieving process people go through after losing a dear friend.

Similarly, if your father is becoming increasingly forgetful and indecisive, while those may be symptoms of depression, he may be developing a cognitive disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Fours Symptoms of Depression in Seniors

The symptoms of late-life depression in seniors often differ from those of depression at younger ages. Late-onset depression cannot only be debilitating – in some cases, it can be life-threatening.

It’s critical that professional help is sought if you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms for longer than two weeks:

Symptom 1: Behavioral changes:

  • Withdrawal from once-pleasurable activities
  • Socially withdrawing from enjoyed gatherings
  • Preferring to be left alone
  • Pacing or fidgeting
  • Extreme fearfulness
  • Decreased ability to care for self

Symptom 2: Physical changes:

  • A significant change in appetite or weight
  • Physical pains without any discernible reason
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Multiple diffuse symptoms
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Fatigue or reduction in energy
  • Changes in the structure and functioning of the brain

Symptom 3: Cognitive changes:

  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Decreased ability to think
  • Indecisiveness
  • Increased memory problems and loss

Symptom 4: Psychosocial changes:

  • Feeling sad
  • Increased irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Increased anxiety
  • Inappropriate feelings of guilt

Helping a Loved One With Depression

Watching a senior loved one or parent struggle with feelings of overpowering sadness and despair can be painful. Unfortunately, you might not know how to approach the situation and get your loved ones the help they need.

Here are four steps to help you provide much-needed support:

  1. Learn about the symptoms and be prepared to act on them.
  2. Reassure your loved one that depression is an illness, not a sign of a character defect or weakness. Let them know that with proper care, they can feel happier and live a fulfilling life.
  3. Make an appointment with their physician or a psychiatrist. Offer to take your loved one, and while you’re there, ask questions and take notes.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Enlist the help of family, friends, and professional caregivers.

First in Care is the premier provider of in-home senior care in Manatee County and Bradenton. We’ve helped care for many seniors struggling with depression, and we provide compassionate care designed to let them continue to live happily at home.

Contact us today to get started with a no-cost in-home assessment.