As loved ones age, they often face many of the same difficulties they faced earlier in life, amplified because of the loss of social support (friends and family). Eighty percent of older adults recover from depression after receiving treatment from a trained professional.
Researchers estimate that up to 63 percent of older adults with mental disorders do not receive the services they need. Senior care, especially mental healthcare, is one of the most ignored issues in America. Society often pushes seniors into the margins, and few healthcare professionals deal with specializations, such as geriatric psychology, that can help loved ones. Hopefully, older adults will soon receive more attention from the medical community.
If older adults take several medications for a variety of illnesses, drug interactions and side effects can affect mood and behavior.
- Primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50 percent of the time.
- Only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with physicians receive any treatment.
Depression is sometimes misdiagnosed as dementia — a decline in mental ability that can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, a stroke, a brain tumor, or other illnesses. People with dementia have problems with at least two brain functions, such as memory and language.
An older adult with depression may exhibit dementia-like symptoms, such as forgetfulness, disorientation, and inattentiveness. This so-called pseudodementia sets in after the person has already shown signs of depression. Someone with depression-related pseudodementia will complain about memory loss, whereas a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia will try to conceal memory loss. It’s also not unusual for a person with dementia to develop depression.