Depression and anxiety are common throughout the life cycle; depression and older age have commonly been associated with one another. Late-life depression is a major medical, social and economic concern for the elderly population. There are many factors that can cause late-life depression. It can be caused by inherited traits, certain medications you take, an illness (especially an extended one), or a stressful life event. Things like death of someone close to you, moving to a new area, or experiencing a natural disaster could each be contributing factors to feelings of depression. After years of planning, dreaming, and expecting the golden years to be the highlight of one's life, the increased number of stressors related to aging causes feelings of depression.
Case of Maria
Maria’s life has taken a drastic change and she feels like her life has no purpose. She has to learn how to cope with the death of her husband, retirement, moving to a new town to be closer to her daughters, regaining her mobility due to knee replacement and most recently memory loss. Studies have shown that depression and dementia frequently coexist (Jorm, 2001). According to Jorm (2001), history of depression nearly doubles the risk of dementia. The experience of grief wears many faces for individuals whose lives are challenged by change, turmoil, illness, death and/or the loss of hopes and dreams. Maria needs to express how she feels regarding the death of her husband. Grief is a process not easily acknowledged in our society, particularly the grief of losing a loved one. Grief is often an integral part of most life changes and experiences. Grief is a natural and normal reaction that has a natural form and sequence. It is, at times, intensely painful and frightening, and it may therefore be avoided, repressed, or distorted out if it’s natural forms. Grief is experienced in each of three major ways--psychologically (through your feelings, thoughts, and attitudes), socially (through your behavior with others), and physically (through your health and bodily symptoms).
Individuals who can acknowledge their grief and learn healthy ways to express their pain can then free their emotional energies to focus on life and the challenges ahead. Grief that is not allowed a healthy release frequently finds expression in anger (Newman & Newman, 2012), abuse and/or neglect of a loved one, substance abuse, and illness and sometimes by the sabotaging of another's efforts to help. Grieving individuals should express their needs to their family members during this painful time in their lives. Maria should discuss her wants/needs to her daughters. One way Maria’s daughters can decrease her stress is by decreasing the time she spends with their children. Maria needs to socialize more with her peers and participate in activities she enjoys.
Depression Late-Life Adulthood
Depression in the elderly, undiagnosed and untreated can cause needless suffering for the family and for the individual who could otherwise live a fruitful life. Depression in older patients is frequently associated with adverse life situations--loss of jobs, productivity, health, friends, loved ones, and homes. When he or she does go to the doctor, the symptoms described are usually physical, for the older person is often reluctant to discuss feelings of hopelessness, sadness, loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, or extremely prolonged grief after a loss. Depression in older people is strongly linked to physical illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension (Newman & Newman, 2012), and Parkinson's disease. Depression can exacerbate many physical symptoms and interfere with recovery from these illnesses, but can also be brought on by physical ailments. Specifically, strokes, hypertension (Warshaw, 2006), and coronary artery disease (Carney et al., 1995) make many older individuals vulnerable to depression....
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