How To Reduce Depression In The Elderly And Stay Healthy

by | Sep 30, 2020 | Longevity, Caregiving

Depression in the elderly is a common complaint, but that does not mean it is normal nor should it just be accepted. Depression is a serious mood disorder that needs treatment and is not a symptom of old age. Depression affects every aspect of life physically, socially and cognitively, this is more readily seen in the elderly though. Depression in the elderly is very dangerous and often occurs with other chronic illnesses and disabilities which may increase the risk of cardiac arrest, suicide attempts, and death if it is not properly taken care of.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13.5% of the elderly on hospice and homecare, 11.5% of patients in hospitals and 1% to 5% of the general elderly population are suffering from depression.

The elderly often feel hesitant when asked about the changes in their feelings and behavior and this might raise the risk of misdiagnosis and lack of treatment. According to a recent observational study in 2015, it was revealed that the highest rate of suicide attempts in the United States were of people between the ages of 45-64 years.

Common Symptoms

You may notice one or more of the following symptoms in a depressed individual:

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling dull and inactive
  • Loss of interest in social activities
  • Feeling like a burden to others
  • Lack of concentrate >
  • Low Self-esteem
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of panic
  • Weight loss
  • Crying or emotional outbursts


Diagnosing the symptoms of depression may be difficult in elderly patients as it might be part of  other physical illnesses. Amid treatments, it is important that your doctor works with a mental health provider to know the underlying cause of the depression in the elderly as well as other diseases which may contribute to it.

Treatments for Depression in the Elderly

Depression can be treated or minimized  by a number of different approaches. Below are a few of the methods of reducing depression in the elderly:


Talking and therapy can be a perfect treatment for depression in the elderly. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective way to eliminate behavioral patterns that contribute to the depresion symptoms of an elderly person.

Welcome To The Digital Age

The internet has made it easier to access anything from the past including music, movies, and historical documents. Show your elders how to listen to their favorite music from their youth, watch movies from the past, or how to read novels and stories. You can also show them how to  connect them with family and old friends on social media outlets. This can help to improve their mood and can also be very helpful in remembering good times and to forget the bad.

Memories Are Key

Once you know what the actual cause of the depression is in an individual do not try to highlight it as it may trigger the painful memories of what they have suffered. Instead try to engage them in simple activities that will help them forget.

Reminders about a person’s life can trigger flashbacks and memories of better times. These positive memories can help to reduce their pain significantly. Studies have shown that even a single photo of one’s partner can greatly reduce emotional pain caused by depression in elderly patients.

A Shield Against Several Diseases

One of the most effective preventative measures against depression and  many other diseases is exercise. Our body contains many neuro-chemicals called endorphins that makes us feel good when released. Exercise is a natural way of releasing endorphins which is why many  joggers and runners experience a “Runner’s High” during and after a race or marathon. Due to sitting idle or working in an isolated places for a long time, most elderly have lower levels of endorphins released during their days.

Exercise is responsible for promoting (BDNF) Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, this factor is known to help cognitive improvements and can help with depression and anxiety. BDNF can foster the making new neurological connections that will help with enhancing memory and cognitive functionality . When someone engages in simple exercise it can lead to positive changes in brain function. These changes will in turn help combat depression and minimize the risk of depression in the eldar if they don’t current suffer from it.


Early To Bed, Early To Rise

It has been observed that 80% of the depressive patients suffer insomnia. The most common reason for insomnia is irregular sleeping patterns of an individual. A lack of sleep is a major contributor to fatigue and bad mood. With this in mind try to convince the individual change their sleep routine and leave the rest to their natural automatic recovery system to get good night’s sleep.