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Wednesday 26 February 2014

Depression in the Elderly
Depressiong in the Elderly

Posted by at 10:44 AM

Dementia vs. depression in the elderly

Never assume that a loss of mental sharpness is just a normal sign of old age. It could be a sign of either depression or dementia, both of which are common in older adults and the elderly.

Since depression and dementia share many similar symptoms, including memory problems, sluggish speech and movements, and low motivation, it can be difficult to tell the two apart. There are, however, some differences that can help you distinguish between the two.

Is it Depression or Dementia?

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of Dementia

Mental decline is relatively rapid

Mental decline happens slowly

Knows the correct time, date, and where he or she is

Confused and disoriented; becomes lost in familiar locations

Difficulty concentrating

Difficulty with short-term memory

Language and motor skills are slow, but normal

Writing, speaking, and motor skills are impaired

Notices or worries about memory problems

Doesn’t notice memory problems or seem to care

Whether cognitive decline is caused by dementia or depression, it’s important to see a doctor right away. If it’s depression, memory, concentration, and energy will bounce back with treatment. Treatment for dementia will also improve you or your loved one’s quality of life. And in some types of dementia, symptoms can be reversed, halted, or slowed.

Helping a depressed senior

The very nature of depression interferes with a person's ability to seek help, draining energy and self-esteem. For depressed seniors, raised in a time when mental illness was highly stigmatized and misunderstood, it can be even more difficult—especially if they don’t believe depression is a real illness, are too proud or ashamed to ask for assistance, or fear becoming a burden to their families.

If an elderly person you care about is depressed, you can make a difference by offering emotional support. Listen to your loved one with patience and compassion. You don’t need to try to “fix” someone’s depression; just being there to listen is enough. Don’t criticize feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. You can also help by seeing that your friend or family member gets an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Help your loved one find a good doctor, accompany him or her to appointments, and offer moral support.

Check out http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_elderly.htm for more information!