How to Evaluate Senior Mental Health to Combat Depression

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Good mental health is very important to healthy aging. Maintaining a positive outlook, continuing to nurture relationships and staying engaged with life can help mitigate any negative effects of physical health issues and promote good senior mental health. If you notice any signs of depressed mood in yourself or your senior loved one, it is highly recommended to consult with a physician in order to determine if treatment is needed.

It is essential to understand that depression is not a normal occurrence in the lives of seniors. Many life events, including but not limited to losses and loneliness, chronic pain, and transitions from home to a nursing facility, may cause depressive symptoms. When dealing with aging and mental health, depression is an important issue that should not be ignored.

Signs of depression in a senior:

  • Persistent sadness or anxiety.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleep, oversleeping or early-morning awakening.
  • Loss of appetite or weight changes.
  • Thoughts of death, suicide or suicide attempts.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Aches and pains.

What should you do if you are a senior, family member or friend who is concerned about the presence of depressed mood?

  • Visit your family doctor and receive a comprehensive physical. It is important to rule out physical problem, drug interactions and other medical issues which may be appear as emotional issues.
  • Mental health problems can be overlooked in seniors due to repeated doctor visits or phone calls, reinforce your need for a recommendation to a mental health provider if needed.   
  • Medication is not always needed but may be helpful in improving mood, appetite and energy level.
  • Physicians can provide brief mental health assessments by asking standard questions at all visits.
  • Seniors should be encouraged to pursue enjoyable activities and participate in routine tasks
  • All medications should be monitored for interactions, side effects and changes in personality and activity,       
  • Attempt to reduce isolation.
  • Outside services, including the use of geriatric care managers and home care companies, food delivery services, can help the senior stay connected. Additionally arrange for visits from friends and family and if important, members of the same churches and/or synagogues.
  • Technology should be considered to enhance communication, aid in monitoring vital signs and adherence to medications.

Aging and mental health is an important issue among seniors. Seniors who experience mental health issues should receive help to ensure a continued high-quality of life.  

For more information on available resources to help combat senior depression, call Abramson Care Advisors at 215-371-3400. A senior care advisor is available free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you locate the care you need.