Signs of Anxiety and Depression in the Elderly
While we often hear stories about young adults, as well as many people who have come back from traumatic events such as war, who suffer from anxiety and depression, it’s often overlooked in the elderly. There are so many instances in which a senior is acting a certain way and it’s assumed that they have either just become quiet with age, can’t speak well, or are just mad that they may have been placed in a home that they didn’t want to be in. Each one of those circumstances can be signs of depression or anxiety that many of us seem to overlook.
Especially during this important week, we would like to make sure that every person, whether they are a senior and need to look out for a friend, or even a loved one of a senior that seems to be acting a bit different than they’re used to, can pick up on the signs of anxiety and depression and give their loved ones the help they deserve.
Affecting roughly 350 million people across the globe, depression is one of the most common disorders that gets both diagnosed and bypassed. In severe cases patients can often lose the ability to properly function because of their heavy emotions. For seniors, they can easily fall into a deep depression if they lose their life-long love, pet, or their living situation gets all turned around because of their declining health.
Some signs include, but are not limited to:
- Trouble sleeping – The condition will more than likely affect your senior loved one’s ability to sleep, but it can also cause them to be so shut off to the word, and all they do is sleep all day. If you notice that your senior is always lethargic and complaining about the inability to sleep, or if they are sleeping more than they ever used to, it may be a cause for concern.
- Always sad, unmotivated – This symptom is one that anyone could experience, especially after a loss of a loved one. As seniors get older in age, many of them see their friends and family pass, and they realize that it’s going to happen more and more as the years go by, therefore they may be having a hard time coping with this. They can also be sad if they feel as though living in a senior living community has taken away their independence and everything they know, especially if the facility isn’t the right fit for them.
- Rapid loss/gain of weight – We often hear about how food is where many of us find comfort, and that is one of the main reasons why people gain weight; we eat away our emotions that we don’t want to share. With seniors, depending on what they’re going through, they may feel like they’re alone, and they react in ways such as not eating enough or eating too much. Make sure you’re there for your loved one! If they’re going through some life changes be there to talk to them and offer to make it as easy of a transition as possible!
While anxiety and depression are very similar and can go hand in hand, we decided to break them down for you so you know the symptoms of each, rather than just general symptoms of both combined. Anxiety is often the result of stress; when you’re going through a big life change, or even if a certain event is coming up, it’s easy to become anxious and worry. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, one in five people suffer from anxiety, and it’s definitely not a disorder that should be ignored. Your senior loved one may be experiencing this for numerous reasons, just make sure you’re there to help them through it by being able to catch the initial signs!
- Tendency to panic – When a person has become sensitive to stressful situations, they panic much quicker than someone who isn’t suffering from anxiety would. Their kneejerk reaction is to stress over it and over think it to the point that it prevents them from functioning properly. They become fearful of it and dread it. To help your senior cope with this, you can help them ease into the stressful process, and help them prepare for it so they have enough time to think about it.
- Trouble concentrating – Due to the fact that the stress and fears consume their thoughts, seniors who suffer from anxiety have a hard time focusing on any one thing at a time. Their mind wanders and they’ll often forget where they just put something, or even where they’re headed. Help them overcome this by being on top of their schedule and making sure that you can assist them in living the way they’d love to.
- Obsessing – When one thing captures their attention that they look at as worrisome, their anxiety will cause them to obsess over it until it passes or until whatever it is goes away. If you notice your loved one becoming overly fixated on and worried about certain aspects of their life, you can help them by trying to take their mind off of it. Think about something they used to love to do and see if you can get them to start doing it again, or even just encourage them to exercise by going for a walk to help clear their mind.
Both Anxiety and Depression are disorders that affect millions of people every day, especially the elderly. Your senior loved ones may easily come down with these disorders especially at the time in their life where they may be unable to take care of themselves properly and need assistance.
You can help them cope with these disorders by looking for senior living facilities that specialize in treating these disorders, and walking them through the process of moving in so that it is not such a shock to them. If you feel as though moving into a new place is too much to handle, you should consider hiring at home care, so that they can continue to live in their comfort zone while getting the help they need.