Depressions of older people have specific features. Not always the subject of complaints is the main symptom of depression – low mood. When depressed, older people most often complain about insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and anxiety, memory impairment, as well as indeterminate physical ailments. One of the causes of depression is considered age-related changes in the central nervous system. Often, depression is accompanied by various chronic physical diseases. The results of this study showed that depression complicates the course of the underlying disease. Depression has a direct impact on the prognosis of physical illness, as well as impairs the patient’s ability to perform social functions and his ability to self-care at home. Of course, not all chronically ill elderly people suffer from depression.
Risk factors of depression:
- Previously suffered depression.
- Female sex.
- Memory impairment and distracted attention.
- Dissatisfaction with living standards in the past.
- Significant decrease in the number of events in life and limited opportunities.
Depression can also cause myocardial infarction, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
In depressed older people, it is very important to assess the risk of suicide. 25% of suicides are in elderly people.
Depression is easily treated in any age group. Adequate treatment of physical illness and depression significantly improves the quality of life of older people. Treatment of depression takes a long time, and it is prescribed by a family doctor or psychiatrist. Of course, it is very important to alleviate social problems and provide support services (visiting day centers, hobby groups, etc.).
As the body ages, sleep disorders become more frequent. This may be due to normal physiological changes (primary sleep disturbance) or diseases. Studies show that older people have more difficulty falling asleep than young people. They increasingly resort to taking sleeping pills as they wake up at night. The normal rhythm of sleep and waking shifts, during the day they feel too tired, and wake up too early in the morning. Sleep is often disturbed by physical ailments that cause pain or ill-health. This condition may be due to diseases of the digestive tract, respiratory tract, heart and nervous system. Diseases with pain, such as arthritis and cancer, interfere with sleep if pain medication does not relieve the pain. And yet, the most common cause of sleep disturbance in older people is a change of mentality. Most of all, sleep is interfered by depression, which causes both difficulties in sleeping and early awakening. Studies have shown a strong connection between sleep and depression. Sleep disorders and frequent night wake-ups can also be caused by a feeling of anxiety. In addition, short-term sleep disturbances in elderly people may be associated with changes in the environment, because with age the body loses the ability to adapt (noise, other room temperatures, etc.). Very often sleep disorders are associated with taking medication.
- Set the sleep and wake-up mode for the protected person.
- Find for him soothing lessons before going to bed (let him listen to the radio, lay out solitaire, read light literature).
- Think up for him during the daytime active duties and simple activities.
- Eliminate or reduce the consumption of products containing caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
- Make sure that the ward uses the bed only for sleep (if he is not lying down).
- Take care of safe and pleasant lighting, suitable temperatures, and peace and quiet.
- Try a relaxation technique.
- If the person under care has not fallen asleep within 10-15 minutes, it is better to get out of bed and do something soothing.
- Avoid taking stimulant drugs before going to bed.
- Avoid daytime sleep or limit it to 30 minutes.
- Avoid sleeping pills if possible.
- Restrict fluid consumption in the evening.
Sleep disturbance medication is only necessary for elderly people if all the above do not help. If the caregiver is taking medications, consider their negative consequences – deterioration of memory and the ability to self-care in everyday life. It is important not to ignore the manifestations of mental change in an elderly person, because the pronounced signs of the disease reduce the quality of life of both caregivers and caregivers. Many of these changes can be mitigated by medication, and treatment is always most effective in the early stages of illness.