There is an argument that can be made for senior citizens to be screened for mental health disorders—and for depression, in particular—as part of their routine medical care. That argument is simply this: While depression is by no means a normal part of aging, it is quite common among those who are in their senior years. In fact, WebMD reports that late-life depression impacts more than 6 million Americans who are 65 and older, even if only about 10 percent of them actually receive treatment.
Why is it that so many older Americans struggle with depression but don’t get the treatment they need? There are a few reasons, starting with the fact that so many senior citizens have multiple health issues—and take multiple medications—at the same time. Because of this, the effects of depression may be masked.
Depression is always something to take seriously, and it can have some especially dangerous complications for seniors—increasing the risk of heart attack, decreasing quality of life, and diminishing the body’s ability to heal from other conditions. All of this makes it urgent for depression to be diagnosed—but how?
The answer brings us back to our original point, which is that depression screenings really should be standard in senior care. This is a completely non-invasive way for doctors to identify potential signs of depression. It’s not foolproof, but it’s certainly a smart precaution to take, and these screenings can be easily administered at both annual wellness visits and during visits for chronic problems.
A diagnosis of depression can open the door to effective treatment. Even something like routine socialization may be helpful; we encourage caregivers to contact us to learn more, and to speak with their older family members’ physicians about possible depression screenings.
Contact us today to ask about our advocacy for seniors.