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Nova Scotia Seniors and Depression

Posted Mar 29, 2016

DepressionWoman“I’m not depressed – I’m just tired!”.  Well, maybe… but there is a definite possibility that our Halifax seniors are depressed as well. There is certainly a lot of denial that goes with depression due to the stigma of mental illness. Workers at Always Homecare, in fact, the entire Nova Scotia Homecare Industry, have dealt with this daily.

The fact is that our Halifax Seniors (and seniors everywhere) can start to get depressed, even if they have never suffered depression to that point, is a surprise that catches our loved ones off guard. That is one of the other reasons why it is often brushed off and denied…  “can’t be”.

It can be brought on and/or accompanied by other illnesses or disabilities and can certainly have a negative impact on recovery from any illness. It lasts longer in seniors too and actually doubles their risk of death due to cardiac issues, increasing risk of death from other illnesses as well.

Causes of Geriatric Depression:
Research shows that there could be a genetic link to the disease. However, biological, social and psychological factors contribute to depression in our seniors.

Complications associated with aging itself can bring on depression in our seniors. These include:

–      Low levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin

–      A family history of depression

–      Traumatic events, such as abuse or the death of a loved one

–      Limited mobility

–      Feelings of isolation

–      Facing their own mortality

–      Financial issues

–      Ongoing health issues

Depression can often cause physical pain in our seniors that cannot be explained by medical issues.

What to look for:

–      Irritability

–      Changes is sleep patterns (both a potential cause and a symptom)

–      Changes in eating habits

–      Restlessness

–      Sadness

–      Apathy

–      Lack of focus

–      Thoughts of suicide

–      Unexplained aches and pains

Aging can be compounded by depression and it is important that our elderly population keeps active, tries new things, takes up a hobby, eats a balanced diet and is interactive with family and friends.

There are pharmaceuticals that can help as well. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing, though and it would take some trials before the correct one is found.

It’s very important to have the subject properly diagnosed and treated. Have them evaluated by a doctor.

Meanwhile, let’s help our seniors in Nova Scotia smile – play a game of Crib with them or Scrabble – ask them to show you how to do something (gardening or preparation of their special recipe). Nothing picks up a mood more than believing you have something to offer.

… and remember how therapeutic a good belly laugh is for the soul.