Although we tend to believe that depression in seniors is inevitable and just another sign of aging, that is not quite right. It cannot be denied that aging is both a direct and indirect cause for bringing about depression among the aged, but those reasons are not always as inevitable as we believe. During this discussion, the fact should become increasingly evident.
Whether we are discussing a child, a teen, an adult, or a senior, loneliness remains a universal cause for depression. The impact of loneliness varies between the age groups in intensity, but not in kind. It is a tragic fact that as we get older, society is designed to leave us more isolated by default. Children grow up and move out like they are expected to, and we tend to lose more friends to death and distance than expected.
At some point or the other, a senior loses his/her spouse as well. If they were unmarried to begin with, loneliness tends to become more unbearable than before with the mellowing effects of age. Depending on one’s personality, background, etc., a senior might be more or less susceptible to depression that originates from loneliness, but no one can avoid it completely. Imagine getting weaker and lonelier at the same time to understand why loneliness is the leading cause for depression and anxiety in seniors.
Whether you are a relative, a family member, a social worker, or even the elder in question, consider the benefits of a senior living community. For example, no one staying at one of the senior suites at Brandywine Living is ever lonely. Everything from their assisted living services to the numerus socializing programs are all designed to keep their members feeling happy, healthy, and loved.
Most neurodegenerative diseases that affect seniors such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s will eventually lead to depression. In such instances, depression is more a side-effect of the conditions, rather than the main effect. Nevertheless, medication and therapy has been found to be quite effective in curbing most mood related symptoms associated with neurodegenerative conditions. Once again, loneliness compounds the biological impacts of their condition.
It is quite unfortunate that seniors are often ignored and/or treated unkindly by their own family members. Whether the actions are meant be so or not, the feeling of uselessness brings older generations down before anything else. Lacking purpose or company can be a dangerous depressant for elders on their own, but it becomes much worse when that same feeling is stoked with unkind or callous behavior. Perhaps it is most tragic that elders are often made to feel worse by the people who are supposed to be closest to them.
If you have read so far then it means you have someone to whom at least one of the reasons apply. It also means that you care enough to try and find a solution. Sometimes, people just need more support, and at others, they may do well with some responsibility. The core idea is to always make an elder feel wanted and loved. If that is not possible due to conditions beyond your control, seek professional help.