10 Signs Your Aging Parent Is Experiencing Depression

While any of us can suffer from depression at some point in our lives, older Americans can be especially prone to depression. If you have aging parents, it is essential to know the warning signs of depression so you can identify it quickly and assist them in receiving the proper medical help.

Depression Is Not a Part of Normal Aging

Colleen Dwyer, Executive Director of Bryn Mawr Terrace in Bryn Mawr, PA, says, “Although many people believe that being moody, cranky and feeling down are normal parts of aging, they are not. Although depression is a common problem among aging adults, medical professionals say it is not a normal consequence of aging and should be treated like any other potentially serious illness.

“As explained by Mental Health America, depression in older Americans ‘is a serious medical condition that requires attention and if deemed appropriate, professional help.’ For aging adults, ‘the symptoms of depression may be subtler than just feelings of sadness. Even health care providers can miss symptoms of depression in their older patients, as shown by the small number of referrals from primary care providers to geriatric care and mental health care providers.

“For all these reasons, awareness of the signs of depression as well as vigilance and appropriate intervention by adult children can be critical to the well-being of aging parents,” says Colleen.

10 Warning Signs that Your Aging Parent Might be Suffering from Depression

The following list of the warning signs of depression in aging parents is a compilation of information from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging.

In summary, the primary warning signs include:

  1. Noticeable changes in mood, feeling persistently sad, moody and down with a sense of worthlessness; feeling flat, empty or anxious

  2. Becoming increasingly withdrawn and feeling distant from others (e.g. avoiding family and friends)

  3. Changes in energy level; feeling tired all the time, but having trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much

  4. Difficulty carrying out daily activities for weeks at a time

  5. Trouble concentrating; feeling restless or on edge

  6. Irritability, anger or lashing out at others

  7. Increased worry or stress or obsessing about minor problems or events

  8. Sudden change in eating habits (either eating too little or overeating)

  9. Loss of interest in once pleasurable hobbies and activities

  10. Sadness, hopelessness, crying, or having suicidal thoughts

What You Can Do for Your Aging Parent Exhibiting Signs of Depression

According to the National Institute on Aging, the good news is that depression, even severe depression, can be treated successfully. However, time is of the essence since depression can have serious consequences.

Therefore, if your aging parent is exhibiting signs of depression, it is essential to seek professional help quickly before they reach a point of crisis. Why the urgency? Because depression can lead to suicide, especially when it’s left unrecognized and untreated.

If you notice signs of depression in your aging parent, the first step is to talk to them about it. Many people with depression feel that the condition carries a certain social stigma and don’t realize that it is a legitimate medical problem that is no fault of their own.

Explain to your loved one why you are concerned and assure them that depression is a treatable medical condition and not something for which they should be ashamed or embarrassed. Next, make an appointment with their primary physician for an assessment and a possible referral to a specialist on depression treatment options.

Today, there is a wide array of clinical solutions ranging from talk therapy to medications that can relieve your aging parent’s symptoms and protect their health and well-being. Moreover, medical professionals advise that most aging adults with depression respond well to treatment.

Colleen adds, “Here at Bryn Mawr Terrace, we are committed to the total wellness and life enrichment of our residents. We strive to keep them actively engaged in life as well as healthy in mind, body and spirit.”

If you notice the warning signs of depression in an aging loved one, we encourage you to inform their physician so that appropriate treatment can be provided in a timely fashion.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on the signs of depression in your aging parent, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

A Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

There are times when the challenges associated with advanced age, a prolonged illness or a chronic condition make 24-hour care and support a necessity. At Bryn Mawr Terrace, we’re always here for you and your family. Our compassionate, professional team treats our residents as family and respects each of them as the individuals they are, all with their own unique life stories.

We understand that each one of our residents has unique needs and desires, so we deliver personalized care and services that are tailored to each individual. The amenities and activities offered within our community are designed to keep our residents happy, fulfilled and living well. From delicious dining to a variety of social programming, we offer a lifestyle that’s meant to be lived!

Located near Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Terrace – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has provided exceptional care and services to seniors and their families since 1966. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Bryn Mawr Terrace serves as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), offering a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, independent living, personal care, memory care, restorative care and respite care – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Bryn Mawr Terrace and our variety of needs-based lifestyle services, please call us at 610.525.8300 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Bryn Mawr Terrace and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.


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