In last week’s blog, my colleague Dr. Shulman highlighted the ten ‘D’s of Geriatric Psychiatry . The ‘D’ that I would like to comment on today is depression which is closely linked to his last ‘D’ which is death. I have blogged over the years that contrary to popular belief, depression is not a normal part of the aging process.
The Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention reports that 10 seniors die by suicide every week and that men age 65 + are the ‘most at risk demographic.’ Risk factors from CASP include:
• Fatigue (difficulty falling asleep)
• Loss of interest in hobbies or pleasurable pastimes
• Social withdrawal and isolation
• Loss of self-worth
• Weight loss or loss of appetite
• Fixation on death
Getting older and losing close friends and family can be terribly difficult. Illness, loss of independence and outliving those you care about can certainly lead to depression. Feeling that there is no joy left and a continued sense of emptiness are risk indicators. Understanding these risk factors and helping someone to do something about them is key. CASP recommends reaching out to the individual, suggesting a change in routine, a new activity, involvement with others and helping them to find purpose. Counselling and medical treatment may also be needed.
As there are now more seniors than those under age 15, we need to be aware of each other. Technology can also assist. More and more seniors are ‘wired’ and on line support groups either in person or on line are positive initiatives.
Reach out and talk to someone- today.