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Understanding Elderly Depression

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by Karen Mozzer on 3/11/15, 8:30 AM

For many aging adults, the golden years are fraught with difficulty. As mobility, mental acuity and independence decline, many seniors struggle with depression and a pervasive sense of loneliness. Fortunately, learning more about the different factors that cause elderly depression is the first step towards finding an effective and long-lasting solution.

understanding elderly depression

Physiological Changes

There are a number of common, physiological changes that can cause senior depression. For instance, those who suffer from Parkinson's disease and other neurological and degenerative illnesses may not produce sufficient "feel good" chemicals on their own.  With less dopamine and seratonin being naturally produced by the body, depression is often inevitable unless an appropriate treatment is implemented.  

Elderly depression can also occur as the result of nutritional deficiencies and pharmaceutical side effects. Although the human metabolism undergoes a marked slowdown during the later stages of life, aging adults still need a vast array of nutrients on a daily basis. In fact, there are certain nutrients that seniors often need more of.  Whether addressing nutritional deficiencies or amending medication schedules, identifying and resolving physiological changes that contribute to mood imbalance can significantly improve senior life qualities.

Social Interaction And Its Link To Life Quality

For aging adults, good nutrition and an acceptable level of health are not sufficient for maintaining a comfortable life quality. While many family caretakers and aging adults make routine exercise and healthy eating priorities, the need to maintain a robust social life is often overlooked. As seniors stop driving, experience a gradual loss of mobility and deal with many other challenges, interacting with others remains important. This can be as simple as engaging in physical therapies in a group setting, taking part in organized recreational activities or receiving companionship care via a home care agency.

Loss Of Autonomy

More seniors are working hard to age in place while maintaining as much of their independence as possible. No longer being able to drive, difficulty navigating stairs and trouble with basic tasks such as dressing and eating are all things that can make seniors feel depressed. Many aging adults also feel guilty, particularly when relying on family members for assistance. Ensuring that the care environment is supportive and comfortable is a vital part of addressing elderly depression that results from loss of autonomy, whether this loss is sudden, such as after a stroke, or gradual and due to a degenerative ailment.

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