By Gary Figiel, MD
Southeastern Geriatric Healthcare Group
Depression is a serious life threatening illness, which without question increases the risk of mortality in elderly patients and is linked with increased mortality of residents in nursing and assisted living homes, along with other long-term care facilities.
Studies reveal that the presence of major depression during admission to a nursing home facility more than doubles the likelihood of death one year later independently of other health conditions.
Additionally, a growing body of evidence shows that depression adversely affects the course of other illnessess common to the elderly such as: diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Depression and Alzheimer’s
Depression occurs in about 20% – 40% of people with Alzheimer’s and other late life dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Because of the complexities involved in diagnosing depression in someone with Alzheimer’s, consulting a geriatric psychiatrist who specializes in identifying and treating depression in older adults can be helpful.
Essential elements of the evaluation will include:
Proper diagnoses and treatment of depression can improve an Alzheimer’s patient’s sense of well-being, quality of life, and individual function, despite an ongoing decline in cognitive ability.
What causes depression
Research in understanding the causes of depression in the elderly are actively ongoing.
Cerebrovascular disease and the psychological problems associated with the losses that occur during aging are believed to be leading risk factors.
However, a combination of many additional factors, including genetic components, personality, and environment all play a significant role in the manifestation of depression.
Symptoms of depression
Symptoms that commonly occur in older patients with depression include:
Treatments for depression
Clinical research indicates that both biological and psychological treatments are effective for treating different types of depression in the elderly.
A manageable illness
Depression is a common, serous, life threatening illness in the elderly that is commonly misdiagnosed and improperly treated. However, if properly diagnosed, numerous advances in the treatment of depression have made it a very manageable illness.
If you need answers to your elder care questions, send your questions to us at:
Answers are provided by our ElderCare Matters Partners, some of America's TOP Elder Care Professionals who have years of experience in helping families plan for and deal with a wide range of Elder Care / Senior Care Services.
All Q&A's are posted on the homepage of ElderCareMatters.com
If you help familes plan for or deal with elder care matters, then you owe it to yourself and to families across America to become a professional member of the National ElderCare Matters Alliance and to be listed on the many Elder Care / Senior Care Directories that are sponsored by this National Alliance of Elder Care Professionals.
For additional information about professional membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, (including the many benefits of becoming one of our ElderCare Matters Partners) and to download an Application for your Basic, Premium or Partner Membership in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance, visit: ElderCare Matters Alliance.