Senior sad man leans on a cane while sitting on sofa

Depression afflicts many people over 65, and it can be as dangerous to a senior’s health as smoking. As many as 6.5 million older adults are depressed, yet only ten percent of them receive treatment. According to one study, seniors are about seven times more likely to commit suicide.

Causes of depression

Seniors are at a much higher risk for depression, mostly because of social isolation. Retirement, loss of a spouse, living alone, and disability are just some of the reasons that a senior might not be as active and socially engaged as formerly.

And, let’s face it, growing old is hard. Slowing down, feeling more pain, having trouble doing things that used to be easy: all these contribute to the anxiety and frustration. Short-term anxiety and frustration are not an immediate problem. But when they start dominating a senior’s day, they turn into depression. And that is a clinical problem.

If a senior struggled with depression as a younger person, he or she is particularly at risk for developing it later in life. Seniors with parents, siblings, or children who suffer from depression are more at risk, because depression can have its roots in genetic make up.

The signs of depression

Depression may not look the same in old age as it does in youth. Older adults may be unwilling to talk about their sadness, making it more difficult to discover. The following issues may point to depression in older adults:

  • Too much or too little sleep–Sleep disorders go hand in hand with depression. Lack of sleep can contribute to causing depression, and sleeping more than nine hours a day can signal depression.
  • Eating too little or too much–People respond to depression differently. Some depressed people self soothe with food, while others lose interest in it.
  • Irritability--What might look like a constant and unreasonable bad mood could be a sign of depression.
  • Thinking about death–Joking or talking about committing suicide is a serious sign of depression. So are expressions of longing for death.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities–If a lifetime movie buff has lost interest in watching new films on Netflix, that might be a serious symptom.

What you can do

Depression in an older adult is treatable. Exercise and social engagement via zoom sessions, phone calls, Facebook, and Skype can make a difference. If lifestyle changes fail to produce a result, a doctor may prescribe talk therapy and/or antidepressants.

Professional elderly care is invaluable to adult children of seniors. Home care providers perform a wide array of services, and they can warn you if they see signs of depression in your mother or father. In addition, elderly care professionals often provide a gap in companionship that can stave off depression that often occurs as a result of social isolation.

In conclusion, depression in people over 65 is dangerous and unfortunately common. But it is treatable. In fact, there are a number of ways you and your home care professionals can check for depression and offer solutions.


If you or an aging loved one is considering elderly care in Highland Park, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care today. Call (732) 607-8870.