Depression is typically a mental health disorder that we associated with adolescence and early adulthood. While there are genetic and biological reasons in which adults and teens develop depression, there are also environmental factors that may cause the condition to develop more quickly. When caring for an older adult, it is important to understand how the symptoms of late-life depression may begin to develop and what treatment should be considered (Chew-Graham, 2008).
Aging as a Factor
Treating depression, no matter what age, often requires a combination of therapy and medication usage. For older adults who develop late-life depression, these same forms of treatment are often necessary as the ability to learn to live with depression can be new and difficult to manage. To ensure that treatment is successful, it is often important to ask about life changing events and address those in psychotherapy as well.
Positive Life Event Causes
Late-life depression, in older adults, typically will manifest when a chronic or terminal illness is diagnosed, or when a close loved one passes away. While these are the two main reasons that otherwise happy-go-lucky adults develop symptoms of depression, there are a variety of other reasons. In some older adults, it may be a positive life event that is unfamiliar, including the move to a new home or even the birth of grandchildren (Chew-Graham, 2008).
Using a Mental Health Specialist
If you find that your parent, or aging loved one, is suffering from new symptoms of depression, it is important to ask for guidance for their primary care physician. In many cases, a visit with a home social work, or a geriatric mental health specialist, may be necessary. For some older adults, however, this type of treatment may not be pursued willingly. As a result, you may find it necessary to elicit the help of other family members who can encourage treatment using therapy and medications, even if only on a short term basis.
When caring for an aging parent who, at times, seems depressed and melancholy, it is important to keep in mind that late-life depression may be a health concern. For many older adults, the complications with depression at this late term of life often arise out of environmental factors that, with proper treatment, can be alleviated. Never consider an older adult, with no prior symptoms of depression, to be free of the risk very late in life and always seek out appropriate mental health treatment when symptoms arise.
Sources: Integrated Management of Depression in the Elderly, by Carolyn Chew-Graham