Depression In Aging Parents: Warning Signs To Watch For

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Senior living, depression in seniors 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that more than 6.5 million seniors had depression in 2009. Even though the data is years old, many people still do not consider severe depression to be a concern for elderly parents. What’s worse is that depression in seniors sometimes goes undetected. Many senior living experts opine that a senior who is upset could come off as grumpy. One could consider appetite loss a side effect of becoming older. Seniors may be more likely to worry about death because they are nearing the conclusion of their life. Being sad about becoming older is normal given that we all want to be younger.

The physical symptoms of aging or certain behavioral features can indeed be signs of depression. As a result, depression is never properly diagnosed and is instead attributed to aging. This is regrettable because senior depression is common, remains undiagnosed and untreated, and can have catastrophic repercussions. Knowing the warning signals is crucial if your parent begins to exhibit symptoms of depression, which is not a typical outcome of aging. 

Causes Of Depression In Seniors 

Seniors do not develop clinical depression as a result of aging; although your parents may be sad that the years have flown by. Again, almost every senior can endure bodily changes and mental fluctuations. However, you and any caregivers should be concerned if these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks.

Why are older people more prone to depression? According to biology, older people’s brains might not receive the same quantities of neurotransmitter chemicals as they once did (like serotonin), and research has revealed a connection between dementia and depression. Seniors who are burdened by chronic pain, and some illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, can be more prone to depression.

Seniors may psychologically go through more unpleasant life experiences, such as losing a loved one, feeling lonely, retiring, or having to deal with various chronic health concerns. These elements, along with physical changes, might cause depression in elderly parents.

When Should Depression Be A Reason For Worry

Because depression can have a significant impact on a person’s health, it is considered to be a medical concern. These impacts are considerably more pronounced in older people. If it happens at all, depression may make other conditions’ pains worse and make recovery more difficult. Depression also increases the risk of a heart attack.

A more concerning statistic is the high suicide rate among seniors; it is the third-leading cause of injury-related mortality for that age group and is more common in men, particularly those who are widowed, divorced, or older than 85. Seniors who are aging and suffering from depression are not just unhappy; their health is actually in peril.

The Warning Signs Of Depression 

Some of these symptoms can occur in seniors without them having clinical depression, but if they persist for a long time or they present several symptoms, you should consider getting your elderly parent help. Here are eight signs that a senior is depressed.


Seniors who consistently have trouble going asleep or wake up too early (or both) may be suffering from depression. We’ve all had sleepless nights brought on by our anxieties and thoughts; when this happens frequently, it’s called insomnia and may indicate a more serious condition in seniors.


While insomnia may contribute to it, many elderly people who are depressed get enough sleep yet still experiences daytime fatigue.


Seniors who are depressed may experience extreme levels of anxiety and have trouble calming down. Other depression warnings, such as social withdrawal, exhaustion, and insomnia, may result from this.


Seniors are entitled to be grumpy, but if the senior’s irritability persists and is unusual for them, it could be an indication of depression.

Social Withdrawal

Seniors who are active and involved rarely isolate themselves from friends and family for an extended period of time unless another factor, such as depression, is at play.

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