Spotting the signs of depression in the elderly

According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression affects around 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 and over. It is estimated that 85% of older people with depression don’t receive any help at all.

Spotting the signs of depression in the elderly

Older people are more susceptible to depression as they can be lonely and not see friends or family members for days and even weeks at a time. They also experience the loss of loved-ones and can feel a loss of a sense of purpose after retirement.

They may also have more health problems as they get older and experience reduced mobility, limiting how much they can get out and about.

If you regularly see or look after an elderly loved-one, friend or neighbour, it’s important to be able to spot the signs of depression. Here are some of the signs to look out for:

Loss of interest

A person with depression can lose interest in activities, feel drained of energy and lack motivation. If you notice a loved-one has stopped partaking in their usual hobbies or does not want to go on their usual walk or shopping trip, this may be a sign of depression.

They may withdraw from social activities as depression can make you feel like you don’t want to socialise with other people.

Loss of appetite

Not eating as much as usual, experiencing a loss of appetite and weight loss are signs of depression.

If you’re not always around your loved-one’s home to see what they are eating, drop it into the conversation by asking what they had for breakfast/lunch or dinner.

There could also be other factors as to why an older person may be eating less. Bad weather could mean an elderly person can’t get out and do their weekly shop easily. If you can, you can help by preparing healthy meals for them or making sure their cupboards are well-stocked.

Disturbed sleep pattern

Depression can cause a person to have trouble sleeping at night. Worries and anxiety may make it difficult to drop off and they may want to sleep in the next day because of it.

It’s important to have a good sleep routine in place. You can read our top tips on improving your sleep here.

Neglecting personal appearance

Someone with depression may lack the motivation to take care of their personal appearance properly. They may also neglect their personal hygiene. If you notice this symptom in a loved-one it’s important to establish whether it is a cause of depression or something else, such as an inability to get to the bathroom or use the facilities in the bathroom with ease.

Our expert carers are trained to spot signs of depression. It can often be easier for them to do so as they see service users on a daily basis.

It’s important to keep in touch with or pop in on an elderly relative, friend or neighbour on a regular basis, so you can notice any changes in behaviour. If you do notice any signs of depression, it’s important to seek medical help.