Did you know? Dementia and Depression are not a normal part of aging.

The good news is that help is available.

Although the number of adults with depressive symptoms tends to increase with age, depression is NOT a normal part of growing older. The good news is that in 80% of cases, it can be treated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% of people ages 55 years or older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder). Depression is the most prevalent mental health problem among older adults and can lead to a decline in physical, mental and social functioning.

Recognizing Symptoms

Older adults may feel and show depression in less obvious ways than younger people. Sometimes they may appear to feel tired or irritable. They may be confused or have attention issues that mirror Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Medical conditions or medications can make symptoms worse. To make things more difficult, older adults may not be willing to talk about how they are feeling.

Depression and Aging: Know the Facts

Depression in older adults can be a serious issue. It is more than just a passing mood. Rather, it is a persistent condition where one feels overwhelming sadness, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities, trouble sleeping, unexplained physical pain and feeling “slowed down.” It can affect how people feel, think and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating and working.

You should know:

  • The only way to know for sure if you or your loved one is struggling with depression is to consult a medical professional.
  • No one needs to suffer; depression is treatable in most individuals.
  • Mental health treatment can improve overall health, as mental health and physical health are often intertwined.

Psychiatric assessments may be necessary if an individual is having difficulty with:

  • Memory loss
  • Mood disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Coping with losses and transitions

What is dementia? Know the difference

Different from depression, dementia is a chronic or progressive syndrome, characterized by deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities. It is estimated that 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia. The total number of people with dementia is projected to increase to 82 million by 2030.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms can vary widely from person to person and can include problems with:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Communication
  • Reasoning, judgment and problem-solving
  • Visual perception beyond typical age-related changes in vision

Signs that may point to dementia include:

  • Getting lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Using unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
  • Forgetting old memories
  • Not being able to complete tasks independently

Dementia can cause great stress to families and caregivers with the physical, emotional and economic pressures that can come with it.

Risk factors for mental health problems among older adults

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there may be multiple risk factors for mental health problems at any point in life. Older people may experience life stressors common to all people, but also stressors that are more common in later life, like a significant ongoing loss in capacities and a decline in functional ability.

For example, older adults may experience reduced mobility, chronic pain, frailty or other health problems, for which they require some form of long-term care. In addition, older people are more likely to experience events such as bereavement, or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement. All these stressors can result in isolation, loneliness or psychological distress in older people, for which they may require long-term care.

Mental health has an impact on physical health and vice versa. For example, older adults with physical health conditions such as heart disease have higher rates of depression than those who are healthy. Additionally, untreated depression in an older person with heart disease can negatively affect its outcome.

Older adults are also vulnerable to elder abuse — including physical, verbal, psychological, financial and sexual abuse — as well as abandonment, neglect and serious losses of dignity and respect. Current evidence suggests that 1 in 6 older people experience elder abuse. Elder abuse can lead not only to physical injuries, but also to serious, sometimes long-lasting psychological consequences, including depression and anxiety.

Seeking treatment is crucial

Older adults with mental health conditions visit the doctor and emergency room more often, use more medication, incur higher medical charges and stay longer in the hospital.

Depression is one of the most successfully treated illnesses. There are highly effective treatments for depression in late life, and most depressed older adults can improve dramatically from treatment.

For more information, please visit cdc.gov/aging and chronicdisease.org.

A Place for Help and Hope

Wekiva Springs Center has created specialized inpatient and outpatient programs designed for mature adults with mental health, substance use or dual diagnosis disorders. Patients can thrive with a group of peers in this intimate, age-specific and non-confrontational setting.

The program focuses on the treatment of adjustment and life stage issues, such as depression, anxiety and substance use, as well as the treatment of long-term mental health conditions like bipolar and schizoaffective disorder. The primary goal of our treatment program is to promote the maximum cognitive, social, physical and emotional development of the individual.

The objective is to return an individual to his/her daily life as soon as possible. Our program focuses on a variety of specialized interventions, offered in a secure setting designed to promote healing.

Collaborative treatment

Our inpatient and outpatient programs for mature adults provide services based on your individual circumstances, symptoms and goals. Working together with you and your family, your psychiatrist and the treatment team develop a customized plan of care. The team of psychiatrists, therapists, nurses and mental health technicians works together to return each individual to their highest level of functioning.

Treatment begins with scheduling a no-cost assessment conducted by a qualified mental health professional. Our specialist will gain insight into your past and current symptoms. The assessment takes approximately 30-45 minutes and concludes with recommendations for the level of care needed.

Contact Wekiva Springs Center

Assessments are offered to anyone, regardless of insurance coverage or whether treatment ultimately is received at Wekiva Springs Center or elsewhere. The cost of treatment services is covered by Medicare, Medicaid HMOs, TRICARE® and commercial plans, including HMOs and PPOs. Normal deductible and copays apply. Initial consultations are complimentary.

Will my insurance pay for treatment?

For more information on our mental health treatment for senior adults, call us at 904-296-3533, visit our facility, or message us to get started. Our facility, located in Jacksonville, Florida, is licensed as a hospital by the State of Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. Also, visit our Frequently Asked Questions section to find answers to common questions about Wekiva Springs Center.