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Depression is a common affliction among the elderly. More than 6 million Americans over the age of 65 are affected by late-life depression. Only around 10 percent seek treatment for depression however. A stigma surrounds the topic of depression, particularly among the older generation and it can be difficult to encourage your loved ones to seek treatment. Here are four helpful ways to cope with late-life depression.
Depression is not a normal part of aging. It is important to know the difference between normal grief and clinical depression. Warning signs like loss of appetite, social withdrawal and irritability can all be signs of depression that can be mistaken for other afflictions. These signs can be subtle and many seniors will attempt to disguise their depression to avoid worrying their loved ones.
It can be difficult to admit that family member might need professional help. Many people believe that a person will simply “snap out of it” and get over their depression. This is incorrect. Depression is a very serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment.
Many seniors will be reluctant to seek treatment, believing the cost to be too high. Do not let cost stop your loved one from getting the help they need. Many times, short term therapy, which is typically covered by medical insurance, is all that is required for seniors to get control of their disease.
Make yourself a part of the treatment. Depression can lead to feelings of isolation, especially among seniors who have lost a spouse. Help make appointments and encourage your loved one to go on outings with you. This kind of basic interaction can help provide the social support needed to treat clinical depression.
It is critical to remember that depression will not simply “go away” if ignored. Early diagnosis and treatment for depression is essential to ensuring seniors enjoy a happy and healthy life.