Although depression is becoming more and more common for people age 65 and over, it is not a normal part of the aging process. Depression often goes undiagnosed in older individuals for a variety of reasons. In senior citizens it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between depression and other illnesses such as dementia. It can also be embarrassing for individuals to speak with their family or doctor about feelings of depression, but it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Depression is not a personal weakness, it is a medical condition that can be prevented and treated.
Many things that older adults go through can bring on feelings of depression. Retirement, health problems, and the loss of loved ones can all contribute to feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Keep in mind, though, that it is not normal for these feelings to persist or to keep you from daily activities.
In addition to the regular symptoms of depression experienced by younger people, older individuals may also display feelings of boredom, memory problems, and hallucinations. If you are a friend or family member caring for a senior, look for signs of depression and consider contacting your doctor. A doctor may be able to run tests to rule out certain medical problems, talk with the individual themselves, and ask you or other family members important questions. The doctor may also be able to develop a treatment plan that will allow your loved one to live a happier life.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing depression, contact your doctor. There are a variety of causes of this illness that can often be treated by medication or therapy. There are also many support groups available to individuals suffering from depression and their families.