The most prevalent mental health condition seen in seniors today may surprise you – it is depression, sitting ahead of cognitive disorders such as dementia. However, researchers admit that it may be difficult to fully measure the scope of depression, as many independent seniors can go undiagnosed.
Depression is sometimes called a silent killer for senior citizens, as what starts as a dip or depressive episode can lead to a longer term mental health condition, exacerbated by loneliness. Independent seniors are often less likely to come forward to talk about the issues they may be experiencing, and can then go untreated.
With the winter holiday season around the corner, along with shorter and colder days, many senior citizens can be hit by a case of the “winter blues”. So, how can we help our senior neighbours?
The best thing that you can do: ask how things are going. A simple “are you okay?” can go a long way. Visits, senior community programs, and regular phone calls are also incredibly important.
According to experts, these are symptoms that may point to elderly depression:
- Disrupted sleep – either too much or too little
- Sudden weight changes
- Stress and irritation
- Persistent sadness
- Disconnection from usual activities and hobbies
- Decreased sociability
Depression can be hard to talk about, but it’s so important. If you know a senior who you think might be having a hard time, reach out, or speak to someone who can. You could be doing more good than you imagine.