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Depression and the Elderly

Depression and the Elderly

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Published by Abigail Vos

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Published by: Abigail Vos on Feb 15, 2014
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SYMPTOMS PHYSICAL Loss of pleasure in activities previously enjoyed Insomnia or hypersomnia Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain. Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling run down Increased use of alcohol and drugs might appear. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment: headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain. EMOSIONAL Persistent sad, or “empty” mood Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and self-reproach Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts. Restlessness, irritability, hostility. Deterioration of social relationships

Many of the above symptoms could be associated with old age. So, how do we determine if depression is present? Ask detailed questions to determine what their emotional state is really like. Don’t assume.

DEPRESSION IS NOT     The same as a temporary blue mood. A sign of personal weakness. A condition that can be willed or wished away. Something you can “snap out of” or just “pull yourself together.”

It is essential to have a well balanced diet that prevents tiredness and feeling run down.SELF HELP FOR DEPRESSION  Trying to deal with your pain on your own can only make it worse. For some it’s just getting out of their room. Learn to make small goals that you can reach.g. Decline in mood after being visited by a family member. Reading books and learning about and understanding the nature of the condition and its possible causes will help to remove much of the fear. Not the solution. but afterwards you will feel worse. Educate yourself. .     Exercise. Social interaction.  Feeling better takes time. Alcohol in particular is a depressant and it can make you feel better in the beginning. Even if they fill the sugar bowls. Avoid making big decisions until you are feeling better. Share your feelings and remember seeking treatment is a sign of strength and the first step to feeling better. you may feel better if you try to take part in activities that helps you not to be isolated. E.  Avoid “self-medicating”. Activities that make you feel “alive” and part of the community. This is particularly hard for the older generation who did not grow up with idea the Psychology is helpful. Identify the things that are adding to your depression and consider making changes that will be beneficial to you. guilt and misconception. Healthy diet. Although you may want to be alone.       A support group could be very helpful – to have a protected environment where they can feel safe to express themselves and to feel understood. Giving them a sense of purpose. Set yourself a daily routine and try as much as possible to maintain that routine.

Avoid patronising the person. No you’re not? I’m sitting here with you right now. Avoid pressurising the depressed person to cheer up. Listen. Doesn’t my caring about you mean anything? Why bother? Life isn’t worth living. You have everything to live for. Don’t try to problem-solve. PRACTICAL IDEAS         Help the person obtain appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Suicide . No. I’m dragging everybody else down with me. How can you think that? You have a great job and people who love you. brilliant ………. There’s no point in going on. Supportive relationships are important. Come on. What would it be like if I wasn’t here anymore? Don’t be silly – what’s wrong with you? Nothing I do is any good. You’re blowing everything out of proportion. Involve the person in activities. What are you saying? You are a wonderful ………. Be sensitive. Encourage.. I’m fine? I had a good day today. you’re not? You see. How long am I going to feel this way? It’s as if I’ll never get better. WHAT NOT TO SAY I’m all alone. And besides. Nothing lasts forever – you know better than that. Support Groups.HOW DO I HELP? It does not have to be your reality in order for it to be real. Don’t do everything for them. I’ll never amount to anything. I’m doing everything in the world to help you.

financial worries and health problems. insomnia. relatives or friends. painkillers and some over-thecounter medication can cause depression. as well as an opportunity to use one’s life xperience to contribute back to society. influenza. Depression can also have physical roots. Depression and anxiety disorders ca also accompany cancer. The elderly is difficult to diagnose because they tend to focus on their physical complaints as opposed to their feelings of sadness and anxiety. post-surgical confusion and Parkinson’s disease. strokes. worldwide. Men who are 75 years or older have the highest suicide rate of any age group. Furthermore.DEPRESSION AND THE ELDERLY   Old age should be a time for quiet reflection and recreation.          . Depression is the most common disorder and the leading cause of suicide amongst the elderly. steriods. Many elderly people are not getting psychiatric service when needed. diabetes. Many elderly people are impacted by significant negative life events such as the death of spouses. As many as 90% of depressed people over 65 fail to get help. mental health professionals sometimes overlook the symptoms of sadness nd confusion because they see these emotions as the “norm” for elderly patients. Some prescribed medication.

What is it about your life that is most worth living for? 2. 3. they had all along. What skills do they have? Their worlds went from big to small. The personality they have now. What makes you feel most like yourself? REMEMBER 1. They once played an important role in society. 2. Regardless of our age. What makes you feel most alive? 3.3 FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS HOW DO WE ANSWER THEM IN OUR YOUTH VS WHEN WE ARE OLD 1. 5. we want to belong. . 4.

2. loss of balance and abnormal facial expressions. Symptoms are bilateral.DEMENTIA Due to: Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s Cardiovascular Disease Substance Abuse BUT not all people with these conditions develop dementia. Inability to walk straight or to stand. Poor posture. Takes ove the patient’s physical movements. remember old information or both. 4. Tremors or shaking in one of the limbs. Walking is often limited and rigidity and bradykinesia are often visible. The patient is unable to take care of himself and my not be able to stad or walk during this stage. Noticeable slowing of physical movements. 5. SYMPTOMS   Lose ability to learn new information. Problems walking or maintaining balance and the inability to complete normal physical tasks. Mild symptoms. Most patients are unable to complete day-to-day tasks and cannot live on their own. 3. Tremors of shakiness may lessen or become non-existent for unknown reasons during this time. Show poor judgment Become violent and suicidal Stumble and fall frequently Make crude jokes Stop bathing Disregard other social activities Accuse family of stealing Make unrealistic plans .eg run for President         PARKINSON’S 1. Impaired in at least one: Speech and writing Motor Activities Recognition of objects and people Planning. . executing and monitoring their own behaviour.

Need help with much of their daily personal care. personality changes may take place and individuals need extensive help with daily activities. to sit without support and to hold their heads up. Major changes in sleep patterns. Distinguish familiar and unfamliar faces but have trouble remembering the name of a spouse or caregiver. Need help with day-today activities. icluding susiciousness and delusions or compulsive. Difficulty performing tasks. repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding. Reflexes become abnormal. paying bills or managing finances. Tend to wander and get lost. They may also lose the ability to smile. Gaps in memory and thinking are noticeable. Mild cognitive decline. Swallowing impaired. evetually. Need help dressing properly and may make mistakes such as putting pajamas over daytime clothes. Forgetfulness about one’s own personal history. to control movement. Increasing trouble with planning or organising. Still remember significant details about themselves and their family. Lose the ability to respond to their environment. Muscles grow rigid. Thy may still say words of phrases. Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion. such as planning dinner for guests. Losing or misplacing a valuable object. 3. Remember their own name but have difficulty with their personal history. Ned help handling details of toileting. Greater difficulty performing complex tasks. Lose awareness of recent experiences as well as of their surroundings. 5. Becoming moody or withdrawn. Forgetting material that one has jst read. Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic – for example. Unable to recall their own address or telephone number or the high school or college from which they graduated. Memory continues to worsen. Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people. 4. Still require no assistance with eating or using the toilet. Personality and behavioral changes. 2. . Problems coming up with the right word or name. countin bakward from 100 by 7’s.ALZHEIMER’S 1. to carry on a conversation and. Become fonfused about where they are or what day it is. especially in socially or mentally challenging situations. including eating or using the toilet. Have increasingly frequent trouble controlling their bladder or bowels. Forgetfulness of recent events. Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic.

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