COVID-19 was (and still is) a global pandemic that touched nearly every corner of the earth, affected every age group and did not discriminate between the rich and the poor. But, when taking a closer look at specific age groups, depression in the elderly during pandemic was prevalent. In many cases, seniors were already isolated and lonely, and being homebound and even more isolated from others took a hard toll on the elderly during the pandemic.
It’s somewhat safe to come out of our houses now, we’re told if we’re vaccinated, but the elderly remain at risk because of their age and potential for complications if they contract COVID-19. So, what happens next? Read on to learn more about the signs of depression in the elderly and what to look out for when it comes to your loved ones, more about older adults and depression during the pandemic, and what you should do now that your loved one is vaccinated and wants to get out more.
Depression in Elderly During the Pandemic: Signs of Depression
The depression in the elderly during the pandemic was a very real problem, as it’s reported that up to two-thirds of seniors refuse to seek treatment for depression and mental health, according to a 2020 survey in GeneSight Mental Health Monitor. While this relates directly to pandemic-related depression, depression in seniors was an issue before COVID-19, and it will continue to be one once the pandemic is fully under control.
Older adults may think that depression is a “normal part of aging,” but it doesn’t have to be. There are many reasons that an older person may be feeling sad or depressed, including:
- Death of a loved one or close friend
- Feeling isolated or alone
- Moving from work into retirement
- Dealing with a serious diagnosis or illness
- Physical limitations or pain
However, depression in elderly adults may look different than depression in younger people, and it may be tough to tell the signs. A person may not want to admit that they’re depressed, and sometimes, they may not even know it themselves. An older person with depression may have signs such as:
- Being irritable or grouchy
- Having insomnia or oversleeping
- Being confused or disoriented (could be mistaken for dementia)
- Being unable to concentrate
- Not being able to enjoy activities that one once enjoyed
- Having a loss of appetite or overeating
It’s important to notice these types of signs. Also, suppose your loved one becomes less social or withdrawn. It may be a sign of depression—but that can be a tough one to tell, as most seniors were essentially homebound during the pandemic, which further contributed to senior depression. If you notice your loved one has symptoms such as these for two weeks or more, you should consult a healthcare provider.
Depression in the Elderly During the Pandemic: Depression in Lockdown
Why was depression in the elderly during the pandemic a bigger problem for their age group than for others? Because if they were partly isolated from the world before, they were now fully isolated. A family could not visit them in nursing homes if that’s where they resided.
Christmas and holiday gatherings were frowned upon. Everyone was frightened to take that risk to get Grandma or Grandpa sick—and they were right to feel that way. The elderly in the pandemic were at the highest risk of dying should they contract COVID-19. Unfortunately, that made dealing with mental health issues quite problematic.
Telehealth services were provided during the lockdown, but this is an age group that is not as technologically savvy as others and who were also raised when you don’t seek help for mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. The survey that polled seniors avoiding treatment revealed these very truths. So, seniors suffered in silence for months.
Depression in the Elderly During the Pandemic: What Happens Now?
The number one thing you should ask your elderly loved ones to do is to get vaccinated. Once that step is complete, they can go enjoy life again—to a degree. However, there are some things to consider:
- The elderly are still the highest-risk group. The vaccines are not foolproof, and seniors shouldn’t let their guard down. For the time being, they may still want to practice social distancing and wear masks in public, even though it is not required.
- Older adults should still choose outdoor events and dining over indoor if possible, for the same reasons above.
- Seniors should never put off healthcare for any reason. It’s perfectly safe to visit your doctor, dentist, or another provider in-person.
- Older adults should stay up-to-date with the CDC. The information does change daily, so it’s always wise to be informed.
- Everyone should stay connected. Even if it’s only through phone or Zoom, it’s important to stay connected to your loved ones, although it’s okay to give Grandma and Grandpa a hug at this point.
To find out more information about depression in the elderly during the pandemic, or to hear more about mobility products that can be life-changing, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives possible.