When Does Depression in Older Adults Need Treatment?

Dementia, a gradual, progressive decline of cognitive abilities not always due to Alzheimer’s disease, affects many mature adults.

The older we get, the more likely our cognition will be impaired to some degree.

But what about depression or anxiety? These are much more common and can significantly impact the quality of life of older adults. in fact, depression is widespread in this group, which has the highest suicide rate of all age groups.

As we age, our bodies go through processes that are sometimes hard to accept. Some are debilitating. We are faced with the need to rapidly adjust to a changing lifestyle. Accepting these new limitations can cause depression.

People with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease are more prone to depression. And people who are depressed may not take good care of themselves. it becomes a vicious circle of illness, which, if left untreated, can lead to disastrous consequences.

it is important to recognize when our older parent, grandparent or other loved one is clinically depressed. Depression in older adults, as with other age groups, is characterized by a powerful state of sadness, lack of motivation, lack of energy, irritability, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, sleep difficulties and sometimes thoughts of suicide.

One condition seen in depression at a later age but not often in younger people is pseudodementia, which looks like dementia but is not. When the depression is treated, the “dementia” goes away. Antidepressants available today are safe and well-tolerated, and can make an amazing difference in the quality of life of older adults.

Talk with the older adults in your life about depression. if you have any
concern that they might be depressed, ask them to see a professional. You can make a huge difference in their life, and add many years to it.

By Wojciech Zolcik, MD
Medical Director, Lutheran's Senior Behavioral Health

»Get Help Now

For more information about Lutheran’s Senior Behavioral Health program or to make a referral for an older adult in your life, call 303-467-4080 or visit westpinesrecovery.org/sbh.