Experts say it can be difficult to recognize when older adults are depressed


WASHINGTON, DC (WDVM) — Since the pandemic began, many have experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to a national survey, from the Genesight Mental Health Monitor,  more than half of Americans 65 and older are experiencing depression and suffering in silence.

The National Institute of Health reported many older adults in the U.S. already struggled with feelings of isolation, but the pandemic has compounded the problem.

Many seniors were forced into isolation, and some may experience feeling like a burden to their families.

According to Genesight Mental Health Monitor, depression in seniors can be difficult to notice because showing sadness is not their main symptom. Often, a lack of communication or attention problems caused by depression can be mistaken for dementia or other cognitive decline disorders.

Experts say it is important for loved ones to be able to see and understand the signs of depression in older adults in order to protect their overall health.

“One of the critical ways that we can help ameliorate the problem is to decrease people’s isolation. It can be helpful if loved ones reach out and communicate with older adults, said Dr. Mark Pollack, Chief Medical Officer of Myriad Neuroscience. “It can be beneficial if they set up daily zoom calls, so seniors can feel like they are remembered and loved.”

Healthline recommends these tips for combating depression:

  • Encourage seniors to take on a new hobby: learning a new skill or participating in a new activity can help occupy their mind, and give them something to look forward to.
  • Exercise can be beneficial, walking or stair climbing can help seniors physically and emotionally
  • If they are staying in assisted living, make their room comfortable. It can be beneficial to decorate their room and hang pictures of loved ones to make them feel at home
  • Set up virtual calls: it can help to see and hear their loved ones
  • If possible, adopt an animal for your loved one, animals are a great source of therapy and comfort.
  • Set up virtual activities, it can be helpful to encourage interaction by participating in online activities.

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