Why Depression Warning Signs Are Commonly Missed in Older Adults

In recent years, mental health issues have continued to grow in prevalence amongst all age groups. With the ongoing pandemic, more people are experiencing mental health concerns. This development is especially true for older adults who struggle with loneliness, isolation, and feelings of depression.

While there are many seniors who battle depression, their struggle often goes unnoticed. The signs and symptoms of depression can be subtle or be mistaken for other underlying issues. Read on to learn why depression warning signs are commonly missed in older adults.

Tips from St. Petersburg Assisted Living Facilities: 3 Reasons Depression May Go Unnoticed in Seniors

When a loved one is in a St. Petersburg assisted living facility, it may be difficult to pinpoint when a resident is struggling with depression. Below are three common reasons that signs of depression go unnoticed in seniors:

1. Mistaken for Other Concerns

The most common reason that depression goes unnoticed in older adults is that the warning signs can often mimic the symptoms of other conditions. 

Many seniors struggle with health ailments like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or cancer. These medical concerns can produce feelings of hopelessness, extreme fatigue, weight fluctuations, and lack of interest in activity — all of which are common signs of depression. 

For those who work with the elderly, mental health issues can inadvertently be overlooked simply because medical concerns are so prevalent among seniors. 

When an older individual experiences signs and symptoms of depression, most healthcare workers first consider their physical health. This process leads to many seniors being diagnosed with a medical ailment rather than depression. 

2. An Inability to Communicate

Whether it be due to cognitive decline or other medical circumstances, some older adults struggle with communication. They may be unable to speak or properly express emotions, making it impossible to convey that they are experiencing feelings of depression. 

In skilled nursing facilities in St. Petersburg, FL, employees are often trained to look for nonverbal or physical cues that a resident is struggling. 

With that being said, depression looks different from person to person. Some older adults do not show any outward signs of depression, like self-isolation or irritability. In these seniors, it can be harder to pinpoint their mental health concerns without clear communication.

3. A Lack of Awareness

Frequently senior depression goes unnoticed due to a simple lack of awareness. Many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults. When you are not fully informed on what depression looks like, it can be very difficult to spot in other people. 

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of depression in seniors:

  • Extreme weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Intense fatigue
  • Disinterest in activity
  • Self-isolation
  • Insomnia
  • Sudden feelings of guilt or remorse

Proper education and depression awareness can help inform those who work with seniors. 

In St. Petersburg assisted living facilities, placing emphasis on the signs and symptoms of mental health struggles can make diagnosis and treatment much easier. When these signs and symptoms are noticed early on, they can help ease the severity of depression in older adults.

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