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How to support aging loved ones experiencing depression

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2020 | Elder Law, Long-Term Healthcare |

Age does not shield someone from mental illness. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five adults over the age of 55 experiences a mental health condition. While this can include an array of different ailments, one of the most prevalent issues is depression.

Unfortunately, most seniors are not getting the help they could use.

Depression affects all aspects of a person’s life

Depression does more than make someone feel sad. Its presence can impact all aspects of an older adult’s life. For example:

  • Depression is associated with distress and suffering
  • It can result in physical, mental and social impairments
  • Aging adults with depression tend to use more medication and remain in the hospital for longer
  • Medical treatments for other chronic diseases can be complicated by depression

Those who experience frequent mental distress can suffer even further, with disruptions to basic life activities like eating and making healthy choices. Still, according to the CDC, depression remains under-recognized and under-treated among aging adults.

Treatment can make a difference

It does not matter how old someone is. Treatment for depression and other mental illnesses – often therapy, medication or both – is effective more often than not. The key is making sure an older loved one actually receives that type of care.

As U.S. News and World Report explains, having close friends and family members there to encourage and support them can make a huge difference. If you notice signs an aging loved one is coping with a mental illness, do not be afraid to talk about it. A primary care provider can often help with an initial evaluation, and from there, an effective treatment plan.

As one expert told the news outlet, “It’s hard to do, but once done, it may really save a life.”