Recognizing Depression in Seniors

Depression is a difficult topic to discuss with anyone, especially family members.The stigma that looms over the title of “mental illness” is a difficult problem to solve. Many warning signs of depression are often overlooked and, unfortunately, are only realized after it is too late.

Woman with her hand on another woman's shoulderDepression in older adults can easily be written off as “moodiness” or “typical behaviors”. This is not always the case. Sure, everybody has an image of that cranky man on television that lives down the block, but depression is very different.

Warning signs of depression vary greatly from person to person, but can still be identified. The sooner they are recognized for what they are, the better chance there is to arm yourself and your loved ones with the right tools to battle depression.

According to the Administration on Aging, some common warning signs are:

  • Sad, discouraged mood
  • Persistent pessimism about the present, future and the past
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies, social life, and sex
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Lack of energy and feeling slowed down
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Loss of appetite and loss of weight
  • Disturbed sleep, especially early morning waking
  • Depressive, gloomy or desolate dreams
  • Suicidal thoughts

Signed into law by president, Lyndon Johnson, the Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA) set out to maintain the dignity and welfare of older Americans. It also paved the way for services that organized and coordinated opportunities of older Americans and their families to recognize and treat symptoms of depression in the community.

The AOA website offers a vast amount of resources for families and caregivers that allow them to care for their loved ones with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Family sitting around elderly man smiling

If you or your loved one are feeling the effects of depression, know that there are resources that are available for you. Nobody needs to battle depression alone and the symptoms should not be disregarded as minor feelings. Call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the 24/7 Treatment Referral Line at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find the treatment that works for you.

Visit psycom.net with your loved one to obtain a better understanding of what you may be feeling.

 

Your health and wellbeing go far beyond physical wellness. At Arise, our philosophy is “Stay Home, Stay Safe. Stay Healthy,” And that is exactly what we want for al or patients- no matter the age and no matter the symptoms.

Aging Differences Between Men and Women

Much of how people age depends on genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle and nutritional choices, but did you know that much of the aging process can depend on gender as well?

Men and women age differently. For example, men and women have consistently different bone structure. The opening in the skull around the eyes in men is much larger than it is women. Because there is less bone support in that area, men typically have more hollow, deep-set eyes that tend to develop more bags in comparison to women as they age. What other aging differences are there between men and women? Let’s take a look:

Life Expectancy

Across the world and across generations, it seems that women often outlive men. Doctors and scientists have attributed differences in life expectancy to a variety of factors. Women are less prone to heart-related diseases and smoking-related illnesses compared to men because these diseases and conditions occur later in life for many women. This can be attributed to a woman’s supply of estrogen, which helps make arteries strong and flexible. Women also tend to make healthier lifestyle choices and get screened and tested for health issues more frequently and far earlier in life.

Life Choices

From more physically-demanding or more labor intensive career choices to high-adrenaline recreational decisions, men have been shown to make riskier decisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men, whereas it is sixth for women. This is in part due to the frontal lobe—a part of the brain that deals with responsibility and risk calculation—which develops more slowly in men.

Hormonal Differences

Some of the greatest differences between men and women occur at the hormonal level. This can be seen in the differences between menopause and andropause. For women, menopause occurs around the age of 50 and happens when a woman stops menstruating and stops producing estrogen. For men, hormonal differences occur less drastically and overtime. Testosterone levels decline slowly and, unlike menopause, men can still reproduce and create sperm well into their old age.

Stronger Social Ties

Long-lasting and strong relationships have been shown to benefit the life expectancy and increase the quality of life in most adults. A 2010 study at Brigham Young University suggested that people with strong social connections have a 50% lower chance of dying than those with fewer social connections. A stronger social network or a strong bond with another person can promote better emotional health and a happier disposition. Friends often hold each other accountable for physical, mental, and emotional checkups.

Gender is one of the biggest factors in terms of how men and women age. Between gender, genetics, environmental factors, nutrition, and lifestyle habits, it’s a fact of life that people age differently.

Choose to Age Well with These 6 Healthy Living Tips

The beginning of the year is an excellent time to develop and recommit to goals that will help you better yourself. This year, focus your resolutions on healthy aging habits and aging well. With the help of your home health care assistant, see how you can lead a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle while being at your healthiest and happiest self.

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Regular physical exercise will help you maintain muscle mass and flexibility, and staying physically fit throughout your adult life will help decrease the chance that you will develop chronic health conditions. Get into a regular routine of exercising and staying fit, and engage in a lifelong sport that you enjoy like golf, dancing, cycling, or jogging.

Exercise Your Brain
The more you challenge your brain, the better it performs. Staying mentally active is just as important as staying physically fit. Challenge yourself to learn something new every day, learn a new language, join a discussion group, regularly participate in puzzles and mind teasers to exercise your brain.

Watch What You Put in Your Body
Many experts agree that most of your health is related to what you put into your body. Engage in a healthy diet. A good rule of thumb to follow is to eat a rainbow. More specifically, choose nutrient-rich foods like brightly colored fruits and vegetables that will add some variety to your diet. Seek out heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and limit your red meat and whole-fat dairy product intake. Choose whole grains over processed and refined grains. Choose bone-healthy calcium and Vitamin D options. To develop a more personalized diet, consult your healthcare professional.

Watch Your Stress Levels
The most common symptoms of aging—wrinkles, loss of energy, high blood pressure, heart disease, adrenal failure, loss of sex drives, poor memory—are really symptoms of stress and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Limit stress-inducing habits and eliminate smoking and limit our junk-food and drinking intake. Cut out negative and abusive relationships. Free yourself of regrets and emotional demons. And find a healthy and meaningful way to cope with stress.

Foster Relationships You Enjoy

Social isolation is a major indicator of unhappiness and depression. Engaging in healthy, active, and meaningful relationships. Remember the importance of cultivating and maintaining relationships and staying socially active as it has been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Be Responsible About Screenings
Physicals and wellness exams are important as you age, but getting specific screenings for heart disease, cancer, and heart diseases, as well as vaccines for pneumonia, shingles, and the flu—which kills thousands of older adults every year—is essential to your health. A simple screening can catch a disease in its earliest stages.

For more information on healthy aging, read 50 Tips for Aging Gracefully from Ecumen.