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Exercise Is Important to Limit Depression in Elderly People

by Renee Marcus on 2/2/15 11:33 AM

Although there doesn’t seem to be one set reason, there is little doubt that depression is greater in elderly people than in the overall population.  There are several reasons why seniors may be more depressed than younger people:  the side effects of many medicines may cause depression, and unfortunately the elderly may need more medicine; bereavement and loss may be more difficult to recover from and may cause a sense of guilt for outliving loved ones; fatigue due to not being able to sleep; and a loss of independence after moving into long-term-care.

exercise helps limit depression

Studies conducted in Europe show that exercise is an important tool to battle against depression.  Exercise causes more chemicals to be produced in the brain. These chemicals help defend it and make it healthier, therefore making depression less likely to be an issue as people age.  In one study, 17,000 elderly people whose average age was 64 and who were from 11 different European countries were studied over more than two years to discover if there was a link between exercise and depression.  The conclusion was that people who exercised more were less likely to be depressed.

In another part of the study people who felt they were not able to perform the free-will of exercising felt depressed.  The desire to exercise was evident, but because they couldn’t do as they wanted, these people became depressed.  In many cases, when people were able to exercise, increased exercise also allowed people to take fewer medicines, or lower dosages of medicines, which meant there were fewer side effects which might cause depression.  Also, when a person was healthy enough to not take as much medicine, and when they were healthy enough to choose to exercise, the geriatrics patient naturally felt less depressed because he or she felt better.

The change in lifestyle can cause elderly people to be depressed.  These people may find themselves in long-term care facilities where it seems each step of their lives is dictated to them.  These people may feel depressed as they learn how to deal with this and other changes as they age.


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

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