Wrestling with the effects of dementia is challenging, taxing on both the body and the mind. One way in which dementia impacts overall health is through the symptoms of depression. While not everyone with dementia experiences depression, many do. In fact, studies show that more than 40 percent of those with dementia struggle with significant depression.
It goes without saying that this can have an adverse impact on overall quality of life—but there is some good news here. Though dementia itself cannot currently be cured, the effects of depression can be treated, managed, and mitigated, leading to significant quality of life improvements.
One of the hard parts of treating depression in dementia patients is identifying it in the first place, as many of the symptoms of depression are also symptoms of dementia. Some of the most common of these overlapping symptoms include apathy and aimlessness; social isolation; withdrawal from activities or hobbies that once brought great pleasure; and difficulty thinking or concentrating.
Even so, if your loved one with dementia has been feeling sad or hopeless for an extended period of time, or has lost all interest in life, it may be worthwhile to consult with a geriatric therapist, who can help determine whether depression is in the picture.
Actually addressing depression can be done in a number of ways, including through medications and therapy. Socialization can also be a big help, which is something dementia patients can find through an adult day care program.
Additional ways to combat depression in those with dementia include involvement in a support group; the development of well-structured daily routines; regular physical activity and exercise; and comforting rituals, such as eating the person’s favorite food or listening to a beloved piece of music.
Depression is always serious, and even more so among those with dementia—but hope and healing is possible through the right kind of treatment.
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