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    Dealing With Depression In Geriatric Patients

    Dealing With Depression In Geriatric Patients

    Almost all elderly persons suffer from depression. Clinical depression is very common in geriatric patients and is sometimes quite difficult to handle. Depression starts to set in elderly people either due to adversities of life, effects of multiple illnesses and perhaps due to a feeling of isolation in late life. Elderly depression is very different from depression in teenagers and young people.

    Causes of depression in geriatric patients:

    • Chronic illnesses, pain, suffering, dependence on others for basic needs, and is rendered incapable of movement often causes long-lasting depression in older adults. They tend to become fed up of the life they are leading compared to the active life they led in the past. This is quite natural, and almost everyone faces this kind of depression in old age.
    • Emotional causes like the death of near and dear ones, friends, spouse and others also increase a tendency of suffering from depression.
    • Constant thinking about death due to illnesses also sets in significant depressive symptoms, and it has been seen that depression, along with illness hastens the person’s death due to that illness.
    • Lack of an active life, retirement from work and loneliness can affect both physical health and also cause depression.

    How serious is depression in old age?

    We generally tend to overlook geriatric depression, thinking it to be normal. It is natural but never a normal thing to be depressed. We often fail to understand the signs of depression in elderly people around us because we expect them to get quieter and inactive with age. Even mild depressions need concern and treatment.
    • Presence of depression can worsen physical illnesses at times and also lead to heart attacks.
    • Worsening of depressive symptoms lead to suicide attempts in elderly people. Suicide is seen more frequently in senior citizens than the general population.

    What are the treatments available for depression?

    The first and foremost thing to do to deal with depression is to seek clinical help. Make the person understand that it is entirely normal to visit the doctor to get diagnosed for depression as it is associated with other illnesses. The doctor would screen the patient for depression through a series of questions. As per the severity of the condition, the doctor may advise for:
    • Anti-depressive medications
    • Psychotherapy or psychological counselling
    • Electroconvulsive therapy
    Sometimes a combination of the above mentioned as well as newer methods of treatment are used based on the symptoms of the patient. Some of the ways to deal with geriatric depression at home are:
    • Keep the person engaged in some other activity that he or she enjoys if illness or paralysis has rendered the person completely inactive. It can be anything from music to audio stories or books.
    • If the person is suffering from depression due to lack of activity in life and loneliness, advice the person to engage in some creative work like gardening, painting or cooking.
    • Try to form groups where elderly people or the same age group can meet and socialize regularly.
    • Family members also should try to make them feel engaged and give them more company. It’s the best form of psychotherapy at home.