Most people experience depression periodically, but for those aged 65-plus it’s an oftentimes overlooked problem that’s on the rise. In fact, roughly 25% of the elderly population currently suffers from depression, and half of all senior doctor visits include complaints about emotional distress.

Alarmingly, 20% of annual U.S. suicides are seniors, and overall only one-in-ten receive the professional counseling they need. Left unchecked, chronic depression can threaten a senior’s quality-of-life and ability to independently age in place at home. On the plus side, if you’re a caregiver for an at-home loved one who may be depressed, there are several reliable steps you can take to improve their health and well-being.

What Causes Seniors to Be Depressed?

According to mental health professionals, the main reasons why aging Americans suffer from depression are:

Signs of Depression in the Elderly

It’s sometimes tricky to diagnose depression in seniors because its symptoms can be confused with those caused by certain medications, illnesses, or simply aging itself. For one, Parkinson’s can induce brain chemical changes that mimic depression. In general, clinicians look for two or more of these signs when diagnosing depression:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping (80% of depressed seniors)
  • Disinterest in activities once enjoyed
  • Not keeping up their appearance or home like before
  • Substance abuse including alcohol and prescription drugs

Grief is a major precipitating factor for depression, and the two oftenti