Four factors that can cause (or worsen) depression in the elderly

by | Mar 27, 2018 | Elderly Depression, Our Blog


Depression among senior citizens is very common.

Let’s say your mom isn’t eating or sleeping like she should, or she no longer cares what the day has in store. Chances are pretty good her problem goes beyond the sadness we all feel from time to time.

Here are some causes:

Medical conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health, depression can be linked to the diseases of old age, from heart disease and cancer to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Even thyroid conditions can cause problems.

Obviously, the appropriate response to medical conditions is proper medical care. But depression can also stem from the loss—and loss of control—that comes from getting old.

Loss of a spouse or other loved ones. One common and unavoidable cause of depression is the loss of loved ones. To lose someone you’ve been married to for decades is an almost unimaginable trauma. But that’s not the only loss for people in their later years. Many of us start keeping a sharp eye on the obituary column as we get older. And like it or not, each day’s news can bring with it the loss of another old friend.

Living in isolation. Losing friends can make anyone feel alone, but many elderly people are alone, literally. With a spouse gone and children off living their own lives, senior citizens can go through the day without seeing another human being. Old or young, isolation is no good for anyone’s mental health.

Loss of a sense of purpose. It’s hard work to raise kids and support a family; for many of us, that was our main focus throughout our adult lives. But when your whole reason for getting up in the morning was to take care of your family, what do you do when the family is taking care of itself?

Unkempt home. A well-kept home makes us feel better than one that’s a mess. Now imagine you’re there alone without the option of popping out of the house. Add to that the fact that you’re the one who used to keep the home spotless, and it’s no wonder that an unkempt home can be depressing.

Loss of control. One of the most profound fears we face as we get older is the fear of losing our driver’s license. The idea that we are dependent on others to do the simplest of errands—or that we can’t just pop out for a few minutes—underscores our loss of control more than maybe any other challenge.

But nearly all aspects of aging involve a loss of control, from the inability to cook and keep a home clean to the physical frailty and forgetfulness that come with aging.

Here’s how we help. Stay at Home can’t stop the painful consequences of aging, but we can help keep your mom or dad at home, where most senior citizens want to be.

Old age may be the most daunting challenge we will ever face, but there’s no reason to face it without a helpful friend. Please contact us to find out more.