There was also a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness, which means that older people can find it very difficult to open up about depression. Here’s how you can help.
According to Beyond Blue, between 10 and 15 per cent of older people experience depression and rates of depression among people living in residential aged care are believed to be even higher – sitting at around 35 per cent.
The real figures could be even higher again, as anecdotal research suggests that people over 65 can often be more hesitant to seek help for anxiety and depression, often ignoring symptoms over long periods of time and only seeking professional help when they reach a crisis point.
Anxiety and depression in older people may occur for different reasons, but physical illness or personal loss can be common triggers.
Beyond Blue lists the following factors that can increase an older person’s risk of developing anxiety or depression:
The signs of depression in the elderly may differ from depression among the general public and at times true depression can be overlooked and put down to part of the ageing process.
Some symptoms of depression in a senior person may include:
According to Beyond Blue, older people can tend to present with more physical symptoms of depression or anxiety. For instance, an older person may complain of physical ailments and difficulty sleeping rather than complaints of sadness. They may also use alternative language to refer to their feelings, such as referring to their nerves, rather than anxiety or sadness.
Acting as a family member or friend is the first step to helping an elderly loved one get the help they may need.
Often it can be difficult to broach the subject or start the conversation with your elderly loved one. You can start the conversation off by describing what you have noticed in a non-confrontational manner, out of love and concern.