Many of the symptoms of depression, such as anger and sobbing, would seem to suggest that diagnosing depression in seniors would be very simple.
However, much like many other disorders, depression in seniors frequently manifests in a way that is different from how it does in younger people. For instance, depression in seniors does not always present as despair; instead, they may complain of feeling tired all the time and blame their symptoms on becoming older. As a result, it could be more challenging for medical experts, family members, and even elderly individuals themselves to spot signs of depression.
Anxiety in seniors
Anxiety symptoms in seniors appear gradually and can be difficult to detect. Because we all experience anxiety, it’s hard to know how much is too much. Many times, older adults with anxiety will have a range of signs and symptoms that belong to one or more of the following categories:
- Avoiding situations that trigger anxiety
- Reassurance to carry out particular routines in the hope that this will help reduce anxiety
- Not being assertive (i.e. avoiding eye contact)
- Challenges in determining which path to take
- Getting startled easily
- Displaying feelings of being overwhelmed
- Showing signs of fear (particularly when facing certain objects, situations, or events)
- Concerned about their bodily symptoms (such as the possibility of an undiscovered medical condition)
- Dread (such as fearing that something bad is going to happen)
- Showing signs of tension
- Panic that is either uncontrollable or overwhelming
- “I’m going nuts.”
- “I am completely out of control.”
- “I’m on my way to the hereafter.”
- “People are judging me.”
- Having disturbing nightmares or flashbacks of a terrible experience is a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Finding it difficult to quit worrying, thinking undesirable ideas, or being bothered by intrusive thoughts
Manifestations of the body
- A rapid or increased beating of the heart
- Having the need to throw up, nausea, or pain in the stomach
- Pain and tightness in the muscles
- Having the sensation of being disassociated from your body or your environment
- Having difficulties sleeping
- Sweating and shaking
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded
- Sensations of numbness or tingling
- Flushes of either heat or coolness
Depression in seniors
An older person may be depressed if they have had several signs and symptoms from at least three of the following categories for more than two weeks: have lost interest in or pleasure from most of their typical activities, and have felt sad, down, or unhappy most of the time.
It’s important to remember that everyone has experienced some of these symptoms at some point in their lives, and that just because someone experiences one or more of them does not mean they are certainly depressed. Similarly, not everyone who has depression will display each and every one of these symptoms.
When compared to symptoms from the other categories, seniors with depression are more likely to show signs from the physical category. Therefore, rather than poor mood, older patients are more likely to go to their primary care physician with a variety of physical difficulties including trouble sleeping.
Seniors may use different words than younger adults when discussing their depression. For instance, they could refer to “their nerves” instead of calling their emotions “sadness.”
- A general feeling of sluggishness or uneasiness
- Neglect of tasks as well as one’s own health and well-being
- Separating oneself from family and friends
- A decline in one’s ability to operate on a day-to-day basis, along with feeling confused, concerned, and agitated.
- Lack of capacity to derive joy from any given activity
- Having trouble getting motivated the first thing in the morning
- Acting in a manner that is not consistent with who you are.
- The use of denial as a defence technique against depressive feelings
- Lack of respect for oneself
- Constant ideas about ending one’s life by suicide
- Comments such as “I’m a failure,” “It’s my fault,” or “life is not worth living” are examples of negative comments.
- Excessive worry about financial status
- A change in status that was perceived to have occurred inside the family
- Moodiness or irritation, which can sometimes be perceived as anger or aggressive behaviour
- A feeling of despondency, pessimism, or emptiness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- A sense of being worthless or of being guilty
- Manifestations of the body
- Getting more or less sleep than is typical
- Having a constant feeling of exhaustion
- A sluggish movement
- Memory problems
- headaches, backaches, and other such afflictions for no apparent reason
- gastrointestinal distress, nausea, and alterations in stool patterns
- Agitation, hand wringing, and pacing
- Changes in appetite or a loss of appetite
- Loss of a significant amount of weight (or gain)
A loss of focus and other cognitive impairments are possible indicators of untreated depression in seniors, and these symptoms could be misinterpreted for dementia. A given age group is also more likely to have one or more chronic conditions, some of which are known to contribute to depression. For instance, a sizable proportion of Parkinson’s disease patients also experience depression.
With the above depression and anxiety signs, there might be an overlap with other issues making it a tricky diagnosis. A live-in caregiver hired for senior home care in mississauga can try keeping a look out for some of these symptoms and alerting the families and doctors. The live-in caregiver is trained to provide senior depression care.
Want to learn more?
ConsidraCare’s live-in caregivers are trained to offer professional support to seniors, such as helping those struggling with depression and anxiety. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-855-410-7971 to arrange care for a loved one.