How to spot anxiety and depression in elders? 5 signs to look out for
Old age, often considered the dessert of life, is a delicate time that demands significant amounts of personalised care. This is mainly because senior citizens grow physically weaker and more prone to injury as they age, and inconveniences can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing. In fact, anxiety isn’t uncommon in adults above the age of 60 and there is research that supports that at least 4% of older adults are affected by anxiety. What’s more, in the elderly, anxiety usually manifests through physical symptoms, meaning that there may be a lot of unreported cases too.
To deal with anxiety-related problems and disorders, it is vital to name the condition and not pass it off as a simple, age-related behavioural change. The same holds for depression which, though common in older adults, is not a part of normal aging. To help sift through everyday experiences, here are 5 tell-tale signs of anxiety or depression in the elderly that you should look out for.
Behavioural changes such as difficulty in making decisions
Indecisiveness is among the more common behavioural changes in the elderly that can boil down to an anxiety disorder. This can be due to stress or other psychological factors that limit the senior citizen’s ability to make a decision. Look for these moments in everyday life to determine the mental health of an elder at home. Another behavioural change that goes hand in hand with indecisiveness is the loss of the ability to be assertive. If an elder at home starts avoiding eye contact, for instance, this could be a sign of anxiety and should be addressed.
Related: Read about how to distinguish between forgetfulness and dementia in seniors.
Consistently being worried or having unwanted, intrusive thoughts
Thoughts such as ‘I can’t control myself’, ‘I’m going mad’, ‘I think I’m dying’, ‘my time is coming’, and others like this, are thoughts that are indicative of anxiety and the onset of depression. This can greatly affect the overall morale of the elder and lead to reduced activity, detachment from the surrounding, and other such physical manifestations, which can make old age citizen care more challenging.
Feeling overwhelmed and irritable, which leads to aggressiveness or hostility
An elder with anxiety is likely to respond to the simplest form of stress as if overwhelmed by it completely. This can quickly spiral into a panic, which in turn can lead to hostility. Irritability is another feeling to keep a track of as it also leads to aggressive behaviour and is a response you can expect from an anxiety-ridden elder.
Significant change in weight, both loss or gain
A shift in weight can be a sign of the onset of anxiety or depression and is something that should be taken very seriously. This is also common for elders with anxiety disorders and can also be a cause for blood pressure problems. Keep an eye out for an abnormal change in weight, as both loss and gain are tied to depression. On a side note, make sure you prepare and serve heart and mind friendly foods your seniors will love!
Changes in sleep cycle resulting in either oversleeping or sleep deprivation
Depression in elders may also manifest through irregular sleep patterns. Elders that oversleep or don’t sleep enough may suffer from depression. In fact, depression is thought to affect 20% of elders with some form of dementia and among the telling signs that point in this direction is the sleep cycle.
All these signs are closely linked to anxiety and depression and addressing them as early as possible can help both the elder person and you, the caregiver. For instances where old age citizen care becomes impossible, you can seek professional assistance at Kshetra’s Assisted Living Facility.
Here, residents enjoy non-intrusive care for all daily tasks, such as bathing and grooming, from trained non-medical staff, who assist with feeding and help with medication administration too. Further, residents have monthly assessments by doctors and access to needed therapy. For those with signs of anxiety or depression, the provisions at Kshetra, which include community interactions and spiritual gatherings can help positively. Kshetra also offers day care and respite care alongside regular, long-term care.
So, watch out for the common signs of anxiety or depression in the elderly at home and for queries about assisted living, get in touch with Kshetra.