Depression in the elderly is quite common and that shouldn’t come as a surprise really. As we age, experiences that we have can make us more susceptible to depression. We will go through many loses in our life that we aren’t prepared for no matter how much we think we are. Late-life depression affects about 6 million Americans age 65 and older.
1. There is some indication that as we get older, we may lose some of the neurotransmitters in our brains that provide us with a sense of well being.
2. Generally speaking, as we age we experience a loss in some physical abilities or some mental capabilities.
3. Strokes, TIA’s or silent strokes.
4. Parkinson’s and MS have been linked to depression
5. Thyroid imbalances, Vitamin B12 deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances
6. Some Medications that we take for hypertension or other maladies can actually cause depression
7. Grief — loss over a spouse, a homes, one’s health, one’s appearance, one’s mental abilities, a job, money
8. A fear of dying.
9. Some people have depression in their “genes,” like alcoholism or cancer.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is “just the way it is.” Our parents do not have to suffer. Treating your parents depression can be as simple improving their diet to taking a walk. Even if medication is required, it’s a good thing that we have them.
Bottom line, if your parent is suffering from the symptoms of depression, there are solutions. Take them to the doctor and ask that they be evaluated. Only about 10% of our parents are treated for their depression and this just isn’t right. Their original welcome Medicare physical exam includes a test for depression. Their annual exams do not — you must ask for it. Original Medicare also helps pay for the services of various health professionals like doctors and psychologists who accept Medicare.
For a full explanation of what mental health services Medicare covers and how much, click here.