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Top Causes of Depression in the Elderly

by Karen Mozzer on 6/17/15 6:01 AM


Elderly people have often led a full life with family, career, and social activities, yet when they reach their twilight years, depression can make them lose interest in activities and withdraw from family and friends. Understanding the causes of depression can help with treatment. Here are some of the top reasons for depression in elderly people and ways to cope with these triggers.


Death of Spouse or Old Friends

Losing a spouse after forty or more years together can throw people into a severe depression, and people who outlive their friends often feel alone as one-by-one, they lose their long-time companions. Encouraging elderly adults to continue to socialize and make new friends can help lift this feeling of aloneness.

Inability to Participate in Activities

Aging adults can become depressed when they are no longer able to engage in their favorite activities. For those who were particularly active in their younger years, the inability to play tennis, golf, or other sports leaves a gap of time during the day that needs to be filled. Even simple things like walking around a mall can be missed when it can no longer be done. Substituting activities more suitable for the person’s current abilities can help lift the sense of boredom felt by an aging person with too much time and not enough to do.

Ongoing Health Concerns

Formerly healthy adults will find as they get older, more health concerns crop up and a greater percentage of time is spent scheduling appointments, sitting in waiting rooms, and undergoing procedures. Keeping aging adults as healthy as possible will help keep some of these issues to a minimum. For example, high blood pressure and diabetes can often be controlled by exercise and diet.

Fears About Being Alone

Elderly people becoming aware of new limitations often have anxiety about their ability to function alone. They may worry they will be abandoned when they need help, or concerned about financial issues surrounding their long-term care. Reassuring elderly people that they will not be left to fend for themselves can help to alleviate the depression caused by these fears.

Depression strikes people of all ages, but can be particularly debilitating for elderly people who find themselves adjusting to new limitations. Being aware of these triggers and their possible solutions can help to reduce the instances and severity of depression in aging individuals.


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

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