The Coronavirus pandemic has made words such as social distancing, quarantine, and masks part of our everyday language.  This new normal of doing many things virtually can be daunting for members of the older population.  Many independent living, assisted living, and nursing homes have restricted visitor access too.  This has led to many elderly individuals being isolated from friends and loved ones.  In addition, it has also led to the restriction of many activities they would regularly engage in.

Depression in the elderly can present differently than it does in younger people.  When depression in the elderly is left untreated, its symptoms can mimic other conditions like dementia.  

Here are some ways to detect depression in the elderly:

  • Loss of concentration or other cognitive abilities (not due to a medical condition)
  • Low mood
  • Loss of pleasure in activities
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If an individual has recurring thoughts of suicide or death (or suicide attempts), that would warrant an emergency psychiatric evaluation.  A comprehensive evaluation by a mental healthcare professional will help to determine what an appropriate treatment will be.  Possible interventions may include medications, talk therapy, change in the social environment, focusing on caring for other physical disorders, or changing medications for other conditions the individual may already be prescribed.