Companion Care Helps Spot Early Signs of Depression in the Elderly

Companion Care Can Help Detect Depression in SeniorsAs people age, it’s not uncommon for them to suffer from depression. Friends and loved ones pass on, illnesses take their toll, and even some medications can have profound effects on mood. For those who care for elderly relatives, knowing the signs to watch for is a critical first step to finding help.

We have written about depression previously, and also about distinguishing between depression and dementia.  There is also excellent information available in the Resources section of our web site under the topic Depression and Dementia Resources.

Symptoms of depression in the elderly are similar to those seen in younger folks, but are often thought of as just a part of aging. They include feelings of prolonged sadness, fatigue, and a loss of interest in activities and hobbies. Many older people are reluctant to share their feelings with others, though, so companion care workers are trained to watch for other clues as well, such as excessive weight loss or gain, changes in sleeping habits, poor personal hygiene, and general moodiness.

While everyone experiences periods of sadness from time to time, those episodes tend to be short lived. Real clinical depression is different. In cases of clinical depression, the symptoms of depression occur daily or nearly every day, and last for several weeks. If you or a companion care worker feel your loved one is suffering from depression, talk to your loved one’s primary care physician first. The doctor will rule out physical causes and medication interactions, and if none are found will refer your loved one to a mental health professional for treatment.

Depression in the elderly doesn’t have to be accepted as a normal part of aging, and the most effective treatment begins with early detection.  Companion care workers are a key part of the detection team.

Originally posted 2011-03-28 10:10:27.

Tim Colling
Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to and to as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.

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