Home > Health Conditions Affecting The Elderly > If Seniors Don’t Know It’s Broken How Can They Fix It

If Seniors Don’t Know It’s Broken How Can They Fix It

It is reported that 133 million Americans have a chronic condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or cancer. Every 35 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.  One in five older adults is caught in the grips of depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression is the most prevalent mental health problem among older adults, yet many of them do not realize they are suffering through a treatable condition. Many elderly people resist seeking treatment because of the stigma that is still frequently attached to getting help with an emotional issue. While going through a particularly long period of depression after losing a spouse, one elderly woman stated that, “if my own family members can’t help me, how could someone else?” Perhaps stubbornness or fear prevented her from seeking relief from a treatable emotional condition. Many elderly people fear they may be considered “crazy” and cling to the myth that “such problems” are matters of shame or imply some perceived character imperfection.

Some progress is being made on the issue through education and awareness. Though federally funded programs for mental health services provided through Medicare and other insurances are available, it continues to be one of the most overlooked areas of senior health. Seniors, who have trouble sleeping, feel tired, have lost their appetite or are unable to concentrate, may be suffering from depression. Unlike some conditions that affect the elderly such as Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist and antidepressants can lessen, if not eliminate depression. The staff in assisted living facilities is trained to observe and identify symptoms of depression in their residents. They know that depression is not always “just a feeling of being sad” and that it can interfere with the routine of daily living and greatly diminish the quality of life. When a caregiver notices an assisted living resident whose behavior has changed, they may notify the family and suggest that their loved one may benefit from seeing a doctor to treat their symptoms of depression. Other seniors may not seek treatment for depression because they truly do understand how psychotherapy works or how it can help them.

sad Feeling by *Auu on deviantART

Psychotherapy does not translate well into sound bites, but could best be described concisely as gaining insight. A patient in therapy will know when it happens. Unlike intellectual learning, they will realize the benefits when they start feeling clearer, saner, more hopeful, more decisive, more energetic, and the symptoms begin to go away. When a patient feels the things they have been trying not to feel, and becomes aware of things they have tried to avoid, they begin to feel and function better. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, University of South Florida psychologist Amber Gum, the study’s leader, told author, Paula Spain, “I’ve had older clients say, ‘I’m not depressed, I’m not sad and crying all the time.’ Depression in older people can take an unusual form however. Though depression with sadness continues to be the most common type, seniors are more likely than younger adults to suffer depression marked by loss of interest. Because this form of depression is a bit unusual, even professionals may not recognize it in older people, Dr. Gum said. “If someone comes in and says, ‘I’m sad,’ you start thinking about depression. If someone says, ‘I just don’t feel like myself,’ it’s less obvious.”

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care Dallas, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Facilities and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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