Depression is a medical condition. It affects your mental and physical health. Anyone can suffer from depression, even older adults. In addition to having the normal symptoms of depression, older adults can:

have delusions or hallucinations
have memory problems or confusion.

Depression is common in adults who are over 65 years of age. However, it is not a normal part of aging. Older adults may be depressed for many reasons. Possible reasons for depression include:

  • age
  • The retirement
  • health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease or thyroid disorders
  • the loss of loved ones
  • lack of freedom or ability
  • move to a relative’s house or a geriatric center.

Some older adults who are depressed may have dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. It can be difficult to know the difference between the symptoms of these and the changes that occur naturally during aging. In addition, older adults are not likely to inform their doctor or caregiver about how they are feeling. This means that many people do not receive help. It is important to know that it is not your fault. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a personal weakness, but a medical condition that can be treated.

Aspects to consider
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that adults get tested for depression.

If you are caring for an older adult, pay attention to their behavior. If you notice changes or symptoms of depression, contact your doctor. The diagnosis and treatment of your loved one’s depression is important. It can help reduce the risk of mental deterioration, other diseases and suicide.

Contact the National Suicide Prevention Line if you think your loved one has suicidal thoughts. Call 911 if you attempt suicide.

When to see the doctor
Feeling sad sometimes is normal. But if these feelings persist and prevent you from doing your usual activities, you may be depressed. Your doctor can perform an exam and refer you to a specialist. It can be a counselor, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. You can talk to them about what and how you feel.

A combination of therapy and medications can help treat depression in most older adults. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. A medication can be the cause of your depression.

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