Depression in the Elderly: Warning Signs
By: Connor Kunz | Resources

Did you know that the elderly, especially those age 85 and older have the second highest rate of suicide of all age groups? As we age, the mental processes slow down, physical strength decreases, chronic pain becomes a new companion, friends and family members die, and the elderly mourn the life they no longer have. So how can we encourage the elderly to seek help? And how can we even recognize when someone is at risk of suicide?

First, we should know the signs of depression, a leading cause of suicide. These signs include:

  • Negative attitude.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Refusing to eat.
  • Lack of concentration and difficulty making decisions.
  • Headaches and backaches.
  • Sense of hopelessness.
  • Negative outlook for the future.

Most often depression is brought on by the diagnosis of a chronic progressive disease or the death of a loved one, like a spouse. Before you can help someone you need to try and understand how he or she feels. Imagine how different their life has become and how hard accepting this new life will be. If he or she was independent and now needs home assistance because of a recent death or new diagnosis then they are very likely to feel depressed and perhaps suicidal.

If you believe that a senior in your care is experiencing depression, it's important to do everything you can, including seeking professional help. Reach out and listen to him or her, be understanding, and help them stay busy. In cases of diagnosed chronic depression, medication, counseling, and even light exercise have been proven to be very effective.

Ensure that you can ask questions and listen carefully. Letting them know they are not alone and someone cares for them can really make a difference. With a little help you can guide them to a place of peace during challenging times.

About the Author - Connor Kunz
Connor Kunz
A writer, communicator, and people enthusiast, Connor's lifelong affinity for words dates back to kindergarten, when he dictated rather odd stories about talking animals for his older siblings to write down and illustrate. Today, Connor is grateful for the opportunity to use his skills to advance services that improve lives. When he's not working, you can find Connor hiking in a national park with his wife. 
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