Caregiver Assistance Newsletter: Mental Health/DepressionVIEW NEWSLETTER (May 2014, PDF)
Because many older adults often deal with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, and because depression can occur with these illnesses, some health care professionals may mistakenly think that depression is a normal for the elderly. Depression can and should be treated when it occurs with other illnesses, since untreated depression can delay recovery or worsen outcomes. And because symptoms of depression displayed by older people may look different from those in younger people, seniors are often under-treated for depression and other mental health problems.
Many older adults may be ashamed to admit when they feel “blue,” thinking that it is a sign of weakness or failure. Clinical depression is not a failing; it is a illness. And mental illnesses are simply disorders that require treatment. We need to reassure the ones we care for that it is OK to feel down. Older adults need opportunities to express feelings such as anxiety, depression, frustration or grief, and receive recognition that these feelings are normal and valid.