Older adults experience difficult changes in life – such as the deaths of loved ones or medical problems – which can lead to depression. While emotional experiences of sadness, grief, response to loss and temporary “blue” moods are normal, persistent depression that significantly interferes with life is not.
Causes of depression in the elderly can vary. Loneliness and isolation is common as older adults often live alone or have smaller social circles due to death or relocation. They also have decreased ability to go places, whether it’s because of illness or loss of driving privileges. Retirement and physical limitations sometimes leave the elderly feeling like they have no purpose. Health problems, medications and deaths of friends and family can also contribute to depression in the elderly.
Some indications that an older adult is suffering from depression include:
- Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains
- Anxiety and worries
- Memory problems
- Loss of feeling of pleasure
- Slowed movement
Lack of interest in personal care (skipping meals, forgetting medications, neglecting personal hygiene)