Aging and Depression

Aging and Depression

Aging is a pretty all-encompassing concept. We are all aging, aren’t we?

I love it when someone says they are concerned about getting another year older because it gives me the possibility of telling them that the alternative is not good. We all are aging but the reality is that as one begins to get older there are certain things or occurrences that can cause depression.

Many people decide to retire at 60+ years.

For many folks this is a blessing but for many others this is a time of loss. Losing the meaning of a job and the relationships that go along with a job can be very painful. The loss of meaningful employment can cause a person to question his/ her worth. The ability to be a “bread winner”, even though one may have enough retirement money, is another loss of stimulus for the aging person.

Depression may be recurrent or it may come to the older adult as a first time experience.

Loss of Life Partner

If one is lucky enough to continue to have a life partner then there is the possibility of companionship. If, however, the life partner becomes ill and unable to function either physical or mentally, then a sometimes long and painful scenario defines the aging person.

Chronic Illness

Depression affects approximately 25 percent of those with chronic illness such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, C.O.P.D., arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

How to Recognize Depression

Depression is not feeling sad for a day or two, but rather a persistence of symptoms that interfere with the ability to function normally for a prolonged period of time. The symptoms of depression in older adults vary greatly and may include:

  • Sadness persistently lasting 2 or more weeks
  • Difficulty with sleep and or concentration
  • Withdrawal from regular social activities
  • Worrying excessively about money or health problems
  • Nervous pacing/ fidgeting
  • Feeling worthless or helpless
  • Frequent tearfulness
  • Weight / appearance changes
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Seeking Help

Encouraging the depressed or discouraged older adult to seek help is important. There may be resistance to seeking help when the person suffering already feels that he/ she is not in control.

Family support is very important at this point. No one who has experienced a full life wants to feel like a failure as one ages. The compassionate listening of a counselor can be extremely helpful so that the older adult might feel more competent and in balance as he/she progresses through another stage of living.

Having experienced many years of life myself, I bring a unique quality to my counseling with older adults. I look forward to being that compassionate, understanding counselor who can help you or a family member with issues of depression or discouragement in the aging process.