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Recognizing signs of depression in the elderly

Depression can affect anyone regardless of their age. However, contrary to what some people believe, depression is not a normal part of aging. As people grow older, their life should continue to provide fulfillment, contentment and happiness.

Families should understand the warning signs of depression in their elderly loved ones so they can proactively intervene before conditions worsen. Persistent unhappiness can have a variety of causes including abuse.

Watching for changes

Mistreatment in nursing homes can include isolation, delayed medical care, verbal abuse, physical assault and emotional manipulation among other behaviors. Any of these situations can cause debilitating emotional distress for an elderly person. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institute on Aging, some of the signs of depression include the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts or expressions
  • Loss of interest in usually anticipated activities
  • Unexplained physical ailments
  • Heightened emotions
  • Compromised decision-making skills
  • Loss of energy and motivation

Offering support

Families that regularly visit and interact with their loved ones can more easily recognize concerning changes in their family member’s behavior and demeanor. Healthline suggests that when concerns arise, people should encourage elderly family members to talk. They should offer friendship and a listening ear. They can also report their concerns to the facility staff. Families can sometimes get a better idea of their loved one’s treatment when they show up unannounced to visit and check-in.

Because depression and abuse can have fatal consequences for the elderly, families of victims may choose to file a lawsuit for the emotional distress their loved ones experienced. Abuse in nursing homes is a serious offense with legal consequences.

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