Depression is not just “feeling blue” or “down in the dumps.” It is not just being sad after a loss. It is not a normal part of aging. It is not caused by weakness, laziness or lack of willpower (1).
Depression is a medical illness – just like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease – that requires attention. Depression can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, physical health and behaviours (2). Approximately 5% to 10% of seniors living in the community will experience a depressive condition that requires treatment (3). While about 35% of older adults in institutions, like a retirement home, experience anxiety and depression (3).
Over 80% of people with depression respond well to treatment and achieve a complete and lasting recovery (2). However, for about 90% of people with depression, their condition will be missed or ignored, which prevents them from receiving treatment (3). The longer treatment of depression is delayed, the more difficult it is to manage (3).
Many older adults spend more and more time alone due to changes in the family dynamic, sickness and death of loved ones and other life changes (3). It is important to ensure older adults do not lose touch with their sources of support and connectionbecause social behaviours improve physical and emotional health, and quality of life (3).
Additionally, following a balanced diet, caring for a pet and keeping a positive attitude are effective in maintaining mental wellness (3).