Depression in Older Adults
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical illness. It affects your mental and physical health. Anyone can have depression, including older adults. In addition to the standard depression symptoms, older adults may:
- Have delusions or hallucinations
- Have memory problems or confusion
Path to improved health
Depression is common in adults who are more than 65 years of age. However, it is not a normal part of growing older. Possible reasons for depression include:
- Health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, or thyroid disorders
- Loss of loved ones
- Lack of freedom or ability
- Move to a family home or care facility
Some older adults who are depressed may have dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In older adults, it can be hard to tell the difference between depression and illnesses such as dementia. Also, older adults may not talk to their healthcare providers or caregivers about their sad or anxious feelings because they are embarrassed. But depression is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is not a personal weakness. It’s a medical illness that can be treated.
Things to consider
If you are caring for an older adult, pay attention to their behaviour. If you notice changes or symptoms of depression, contact their doctor. Diagnosis and treatment of your loved one’s depression is important. It can help decrease their risk of mental decline, other illnesses, and suicide.
Contact local mental health supports if you think your loved one is having thoughts of suicide. Call 911 if they attempt suicide.
Feeling sad at times is normal. But if these feelings persist and keep you from your usual activities, you may be depressed. Your healthcare provider may do an exam and refer you to a specialist. This could include a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. You can talk to them about what and how you feel.
A combination of counseling and medicine can help treat depression in most older adults. Tell your healthcare provider about all the prescriptions you take. A medicine may be causing your depression.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mental Health Mobile Crisis Line (Nova Scotia)
Toll Free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 1-888-429-8167
PEI Mobile Mental Health Service
Toll Free 1-833-553-6983, available 24 hours a day
Canadian Coalition for Senior’s Mental Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Mental Health Association