How can I help an elderly loved one deal with depression?

If you have a senior loved one in a nursing home, you probably know that the transition can be rough. In some cases, your family member may experience symptoms of depression related to feelings of isolation or lack of independence. Knowing how to identify and address these symptoms is crucial, as explained by WebMD.

Symptoms of depression

Depression is characterized by long-term feelings of sadness and isolation. In the elderly, these symptoms are often accompanied by medical issues, such as cardiac problems or chronic illness. As a result, the physical health of your loved one may deteriorate, which can lead to even more serious health conditions or even death. It’s estimated that symptoms of depression affect approximately 6 million people over the age of 65.

Risk factors

As stated above, physical issues like diabetes, chronic pain, cancer, stroke, dementia, and heart disease all increase the risk of an elderly person experiencing depression. Accumulation of stress, lack of social network, and being unmarried also play a role. Medications can also make a person feel depressed, so it’s important to be in contact with your loved one’s doctor if you expect what they’re experiencing is a side effect of drug treatment.


Depression in the elderly is treated in much the same way as it is in other age groups. Doctors can prescribe medications, such as anti-depressants. However, some medications may not be as effective for seniors, so counseling is also encouraged. This is especially important of your loved one’s depression is stemming from placement in a nursing home. A therapist can offer coping mechanisms as well as providing insight on how to best adjust to the new surroundings.

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