Depression in older adults may be one of the most under recognized and under treated conditions they face. More often than not, solutions are available and even surprisingly simple.
Becky Franklin, Older Adult Educator for Tri-County Mental Health Services, recently took her message of “Stinkin’ Thinkin’” to the Westbrook Care Center, Kearney. Franklin gives this and other presentations throughout the Northland, and she’s often surprised at the questions.
One woman in Kearney was typical. She noted her own depression had led to thoughts of suicide until it was recognized and dealt with. “It’s like a snowball that gets worse and worse,” she said.
Franklin agreed. “If we don’t get on top of that, it can lead downward,” she said. “But there absolutely is help available.”
Tri-County can be a good place to start. “Tri-County is a wonderful organization,” Franklin said. “We don’t turn people down and our network includes help throughout the Northland.”
Some details of depression are sometimes surprising. “Depression often goes untreated because people think it is a normal part of aging, they think it’s something to be ashamed of or feel they cannot afford treatment,” Franklin said.
The symptoms of depression can also be different for older people and may be mistaken for other diseases. Symptoms can range from memory problems, to irritability to simply moving slower. Depression can also be mistaken for diseases such as cancer, stroke or Parkinson’s. But for many, the worst thing is that untreated depression can result in a diminished quality of life, including increased risk of falls, substance abuse or mortality.
“It’s important to let someone know,” Franklin concluded. “Help is available.”