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Older Adults and Depression – An Overview of Challenges and Solutions

senior African American couple - woman comforting man - older adults

The Golden Years

We like to think of our “golden years” as a time when we can finally relax and enjoy life. We might take up a new hobby. Maybe we’ll travel. We’ll spoil the grandkids. We’ll read the books and watch the movies and eat the food we have been too busy to enjoy. This pleasant image of the future can help us keep our noses to the grindstone in our younger years.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many seniors struggle with depression. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of depression in the older population and what can be done to address the issue.

Issues Older Adults Face

As we age, we face a number of challenges, any and all of which might undercut our mental health.

For example, studies show that 88 percent seniors have at least one chronic medical condition for which they are being treated. Ongoing illness increases a person’s risk of developing depression.

Even if they are not ill themselves, many older adults are serving as caregivers for their ailing spouses who may be struggling with anything from painful arthritis to dementia. These caregiving responsibilities may lead to the development of symptoms of depression.

And, of course, many senior citizens are dealing with grief related to the death of a spouse and other important individuals in their life. As many as 800,000 people lose a spouse in the United States each year. These devastating losses are undeniably connected to the incidence of depression in the older population.

The Importance of Treatment

Sometimes older adults are leery of seeking treatment for mental health, deciding they can tough it out or that their depression is just an unavoidable result of their life circumstances. But a variety of options are available for the treatment of depression in senior citizens, and these treatments can improve a person’s quality of life significantly.

Seeking treatment for depression may start with a conversation with a primary care physician. Counseling may be an excellent option. Medication might also prove helpful.

In some cases, an intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization program—like the one offered by Peak View Behavioral Health—may be beneficial. The Peak View program meets three times a week for three hours each time. Group therapy, physician oversight, medication management, and transitional help toward engaging in productive activities are all part of the program. This approach to treatment is for those who need more than standard talk therapy but who do not need inpatient care for their mental health.

In other cases, however, inpatient care may be appropriate. Peak View’s inpatient program includes:

  • Individualized treatments and medication management
  • Intensive group and individual therapy
  • Educational classes and recreational therapy
  • Elective electroconvulsive therapy
  • Discharge planning

In the inpatient program, clients are treated by a psychiatrist-led clinical team charged with providing care, support, and medication as needed. Over time, the treatment becomes less intensive as a person’s condition improves and they move toward discharge. Peak View staff will refer clients to approved care providers in their area who can continue providing treatment as part of the facility’s commitment to a continuum of care.

We Can Help You or a Loved One Address the Challenges of Aging

Though folks often do not want to talk about it, it is undeniable that mental health issues among senior citizens are important to address. If you or someone you love is struggling with depression related to chronic physical health problems, caregiving responsibilities, or feelings of grief, Peak View Behavioral Health is here to help.

peak view behavioral health - colorado springs, colorado mental health and addiction treatment centerFor more information about Peak View Behavioral Health programs, and depression treatment in Colorado, or if you have questions, please call us at 719-444-8484 or use our contact form.

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