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The Six Game Changers #6

Posted On 04/30/2015
Q:

What is the sixth "Game Changer" that can prevent seniors from staying in their home?

A:

An estimated 25% of people over 65 suffer from depression. More than half of doctor’s visits by seniors involve complaints of emotional distress. According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, depression is one of the major causes of decline in the health-related quality of life for senior citizens.

What causes such a large group of seniors to suffer from depression?

Disabilities, decline in health, diminished quality of life, loss of independence, needing help from family or caregivers, dementia, and loss of loved ones and friends are just a short list of reasons a senior may battle depression.

Depression prevents you from enjoying life like you used to, but unfortunately its effects go far beyond mood changes. It also impacts your energy, sleep, appetite, and physical health. Not everyone experiences depression as they age, but recognizing the signs and symptoms is still important.

  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Abandoning or losing interest in hobbies
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Large mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Fixation on death
  • Not taking prescribed medication
  • No desire for bathing and grooming
 

 

Unfortunately, if we ourselves are affected by depression we often fail to recognize the symptoms, or don’t take the steps to get the needed help right away. There are many reasons why depression in older adults is often overlooked.

  • You may assume you have good reason to be down or that depression is just part of aging.
  • You may be isolated—which in itself can lead to depression—with few around to notice your distress.
  • You may not realize that your physical complaints are signs of depression.
  • You may be reluctant to talk about your feelings or ask for help.
  • You may not have anyone close to you that you can tell

Often, depression will rear its head when a person is suddenly alone, or is not receiving the same socialization they used to. Being lonely is another common problem that occurs in the elderly. Loneliness doesn’t always mean you are depressed, but a lot of times it may show signs similar to depression.

Here are some simple tips that can help to combat loneliness:

  1. 1.       Separate the illness from depression.
  2. 2.       Treat any insomnia.
  3. 3.       Distinguish grief from depression.
  4. 4.       Carry some photos.
  5. 5.       Make new friends.
  6. 6.       Exercise.
  7. 7.       Join an interest group
  8. 8.       Remove obstacles that stand in the way of going out or participating
  9. 9.       Volunteer
  10. Teach
 
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