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Effective Treatments for Depression in Elderly Care Settings

by Renee Marcus on 10/31/14 10:05 AM

With roughly 7 million adults 65 and older in the US experiencing some form of depression, according to Treatments for elderly depressionthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finding effective treatment methods is essential. Depression Care Management (DCM) in the home or in a clinical setting, as well as cognitive-behavioral approaches, can help the elderly cope with depression, improve their quality of life and lower the risk of suicide.

Depression Care Management

The Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommends DCM as the prime form of treatment for depression in elderly care. DCM involves having a team of caretakers, including a nurse or social worker who serves as a manager, a primary care physician and a psychiatrist, work with patients on handling depression. This type of care includes the following:

  • Providing the patient with educational resources on depression to better understand their condition
  • Having a primary care physician or psychiatrist prescribe an antidepressant medication to correct chemical imbalances in the patient’s brain
  • Having a psychiatrist supervise the patient’s care

DCM can be home-based or clinic-based. Those who undergo home-based DCM live at home or in another type of residential facility. The depression care manager visits them at their residence to oversee their care. With clinic-based DCM, patients are treated in a clinical setting that is overseen by a depression care manager. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another form of depression treatment in elderly care, although it is not typically as effective as DCM. In CBT, patients meet with a therapist and learn ways to change negative thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. Since these negative thoughts and behaviors contribute to depression, CBT can help reduce depressive symptoms, although learning how to make these changes can take considerable time and effort for patients. 

While CBT can effectively treat chronic depression or minor depression in the elderly, more immediate forms of treatment, which can be provided by DCM, are generally recommended for severe episodes of depression.


Depression training video for caregivers to learn how to identify and manage depression

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