A study examined the elderly population is expected to rise to 340 million by 2050. Among them, 21.9% elderly population suffer from depression. It does not come as a surprise that the percentage of elderly depression in India is higher than the world average of 4 – 16%. Depression is not uncommon among the elderly. But that doesn't make it normal.
According to WHO report, people above 55 years of age with depression are four times more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack in comparison to their non-depressive counterparts. Addressing the alarming issue of loneliness and depression among elders.
The evidence is pointing towards a rise in the incidence of depression in the general population; loneliness in the elderly becomes a risk factor for devolving depression; incidence of elderly depression in India is higher than the world average of 4% to 16%.
Rapid urbanization has resulted in the mobilization of the youth for economic growth has resulted in their parents being left to fend for themselves and alone at home. On occasion when parents travel with their children, they find it difficult to adjust to the alien environment.
Living alone or reduced ties from their culture of origin limit the social participation of the elderly predisposing them to the feeling of loneliness, which is strongly associated with the depression and mortality.
According to WHO report, people above 55 years of age with depression are four times more likely to die of a stroke or heart attack in comparison to their non-depressive counterparts. Home care services need to become an essential part of the Indian health care to meet the rising burden of elderly illness.
The senior care services can play a pivotal role by providing the elders a companionship and improving their social engagements as a solution to their loneliness. As per the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, the depression symptoms one must watch out for in the elderly include:
1. The continued feeling of sadness
2. The feeling of slowing down
3. Excessively worrying about finances and health problems
4. Breaking into tears often
5. Feeling of helplessness
6. Feeling worthless
7. Changes in body weight
8. Difficulty in sleeping
9. Difficulty in concentrating
10. Withdrawal from social events
11. Physical pain or stomach problems without a pronounced medical issue