Elderly Depression in Singapore
According to the Singapore Ministry of Health’s public education brochure on depression, close to 9% of adult Singaporeans suffer from depression and about 6% of older adults above 65 years old are depressed.
Identifying the signs of depression
Detecting depression in your elderly family member is a critical step toward helping him/her her get treated and improving the quality of his/her golden years. However, the symptoms of depression in the elderly are often misperceived as part and parcel of growing old as we associate words like “grumpy”, “cranky” and “irritable” with the elderly. Moreover, many older adults may not even admit to feeling persistently sad. They may express their feelings through complaints instead, some of which commonly include back pains and headaches. When feelings manifest as physical ailments or illness, this is called somatization. Somatization is a major indicator of depression in the elderly.
For example, an elderly who denies feeling intense loneliness following a loss of a loved one may express his/her emotions through complaints of headaches, lack of sleep for several weeks or lack of energy level when he/she may actually be depressed.
Other than physical signs of depression to look out for, symptoms of depression include:
- persistent moodiness
- a general lack of energy or feeling tired very often
- an unexplained loss or increase in appetite
- feeling anxious or irritable for no apparent reason · a lack of enthusiasm in participating in hobbies (that they used to do)
- an increase in alcohol consumption
- complaints of sleep problems (difficulty falling sleep or oversleeping)
- feelings of helplessness (not knowing what to do) and guilt
- frequently taking about death or about attempting suicide
Diagnosing elderly depression
Depression can be treated. If your elderly loved one is displaying signs of depression, it is important that you get your loved one to seek the help of a professional, for instance a general practitioner (GP). Your GP may refer you to a specialist in order to get a proper diagnosis of the illness.
If you are taking your elderly loved one to see a doctor, make a list of all the medications that he or she is taking and bring it with you. It will help to determine if any of the prescription medicines are actually a cause of the presenting symptoms of depression.
Learning how to spot the signs of depression in the elderly and finding effective ways to help will enable you to help your loved ones remain vibrant throughout their golden years.