Addressing physical ailments is a key component of senior care, but it’s also important to pay attention to older adults’ mental well-being. In fact, an estimated 6.5 million people 65 and older have depression, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Despite this high prevalence, experts have noticed that seniors have become increasingly likely to seek out therapy, according to The New York Times.
When it comes to depression in seniors, a number of factors can play a role. Loss of independence from chronic conditions or managing the side effects from cancer treatments can have an effect on mental health. Feelings of isolation and loneliness may also contribute. Companionship care is often a useful tool, but therapy has proven to be particularly helpful as well, experts say.
“We’ve been seeing more people in their 80s and older over the past five years, many who have never done therapy before,” Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, told the Times. “Usually, they’ve tried other resources like their church, or talked to family. They’re realizing that they’re living longer, and if you’ve got another 10 or 15 years, why be miserable if there’s something that can help you?”
It’s often up to family members to recognize the early signs of depression in their elderly relatives. Symptoms such as a loss of energy, lack of interest in hobbies or increased irritability are all signs.