TACKLING DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY:
The causes of depression and tackling depression in elderly are often complex, and it typically includes physical, social and psychological factors. The plethora of risk factors range from the obvious ones such as social isolation and the death of neared ones maybe spouse, or to the abuse of substances such as tobacco and alcohol may cause depression in elderly. Physical causes include chronic debilitating and life-threatening medical conditions like heart diseases, acute kidney failure and cancer, as well as blows to body image such as amputation may also lead to depression in the elderly.
A previous history of depression in one’s family or due to attempted suicide may also increase the risk of depression in the elderly and one has to tackle depression in the elderly. The causes of depression are more likely that genetic factors may play a role in its causes.
On the other hand, certain physical illnesses like hypothyroidism and anaemia, as well as other anxiety disorders can sometimes mimic depression in the elderly person or senior. Thus, whenever the elderly show signs of depression, they should be evaluated by professionals for a proper assessment and treatment and early intervention is necessary if required.
TREAT THE WHOLE PERSON
While antidepressant medication to them will often alleviate the symptoms of depression, bringing about improvements in sleep, appetite, nutrition and energy levels within weeks, one can tackle depression in elderly says our doctor and advocates in a holistic approach.
Social support has been shown to prevent the causes of depression; conversely, social isolation has been associated with an increased risk of depression in the elderly and even suicide. Thus, the elderly person who is battling with depression should continue to engage in meaningful social activities in their community, and adapt to their favourite hobbies like painting, gardening, keeping a pet and physical exercise to tackle depression in elderly. Cultivating a spiritual life can also lower the risk of developing a morbid outlook and to overcome suicidal thoughts.
The incidences of suicide in the world increases with age, and men are at higher risk than women. This could be attributed to the male tendency to adapt to more violent methods of suicide attempts such as jumping from heights, taking sleeping pills or hanging, where rescue is difficult in each case. On the other hand, elderly women tend to use non-violent methods such as overdosing on medicine where intervention may be possible. Also, men are generally less likely to share their feelings than women, and thus less likely to seek or accept help from our counsellors to tackle depression in the elderly.
Elderly people who openly express suicidal thoughts should never be left alone at home or anywhere. It is often necessary to ask direct and unambiguous questions to elderly men or women in order to accurately assess their frame of mind.
In desperate moments when thoughts of suicide may occur often in the elderly, access to psychological support is just a phone call away. Counsellors are trained to listen to the elderly without any judgement, empathise and respect callers’ privacy.