The Elderly and Depression

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Depression Among the Elderly
Depression is very common in Americans age 65 and older, affecting approximately 18% of that particular population. Depression in older persons is typically associated with new dependency on others and disabilities that prevent the person from living the independent life that they used to. Many people in this stage of their lives have probably experienced depression over several episodes within their life, but for many, this could be their first time. Depression among this group typically goes untreated because it is often mistaken as a side-effect of another chronic disease such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, heart disease or stroke. Another reason why it goes untreated is because many people think that it’s a normal part of aging to be sad over loss of friends and family members due to old age and chronic disease, moving out of a familiar setting, and coming to terms with mortality. Clinical depression can be differentiated from normal sadness and grief if the person has persistent and vague complaints, are help-seeking, moving in a more slow manner, and have an abnormally demanding behavior. Depression among the elderly is certainly a problem because, if left untreated, it increases the risk of medical illness, making current illnesses worse, preventing full recovery from injuries or illness, and cognitive decline. Many elderly people will never admit if they are depressed but studies show many elderly people that commit suicide have visited the doctor within days of their death. Studies also show that depression is the single most significant risk factor for suicide in the elderly population, with white men having the highest rate. Depression is a chronic disease just like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease or hyperlipidemia. Each one of these, if treated effectively, can prolong life; provide a better quality of life and overall wellness in the patient. Depression in older people can easily...
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