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National Depression Screening Day

Too often, seniors, their loved ones and even health care professionals may miss the signs of depression in the elderly. That’s why National Depression Screening Day is so important. Held this year on Thursday, Oct. 6, recognition is a time for hospitals, clinics, colleges, senior care communities and other organizations to conduct screenings and host educational sessions about depression.

At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we take our residents’ mental health seriously every day of the year. We encourage our residents to maintain active social lives and include mental health in our personal care plan—our regular assessment of our residents’ physical and psychological needs.

This week, we encourage everyone in our extended communities to take note of the signs and symptoms of depression, and to reach out if you or a loved one needs help.

Facts About Depression
Depression is a serious condition in America, particularly for the elderly. Consider some of the following facts, courtesy of Screening for Mental Health, Inc.:

  • • Depression affects more than 15 million American adults (6.7% of Americans age 18 and older).
  • • Each year, 42,773 Americans die by suicide.
  • • Before taking their own life, 70% of individuals tell someone or give warning signs.

According to the CDC, older adults are at an increased risk for depression, particularly if they have other illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, which limits mobility and physical abilities.

Additionally, older adults are often misdiagnosed, because health care providers may assume the symptoms of depression are simply a byproduct of aging or illness—rather than as something that can be treated.

Know the Signs and Symptoms
The first step to treating depression is to recognize the symptoms. The National Alliance on Mental Health cites these common symptoms of depression:

  • • Changes in sleep
  • • Changes in appetite
  • • Lack of concentration
  • • Loss of energy
  • • Lack of interest
  • • Low self-esteem
  • • Hopelessness
  • • Changes in movement
  • • Physical aches and pains

While many of these symptoms mirror the effects of aging, multiple symptoms taken together could be the sign of mental distress. Depression could be a byproduct of medication or other underlying health symptoms, so it’s important for seniors to be proactive in bringing up depression with their health care professionals.

Tips for Avoiding Depression
While depression at some level may be unavoidable later in life, seniors can do a number of things to mitigate depression and its effects. At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we stress three approaches to promoting mental health across the board:

  1. Maintain an active social life. Stay connected with friends and family, and get out and about. One of our top priorities is to foster a vibrant community where our residents get to know each other and our team, and we strive to keep a full calendar of social events.
  2. Eat well and get plenty of exercise. You can’t over-stress the importance of diet and exercise on physical and mental well-being. For this reason, we offer a variety of healthy dining options as well as fitness classes in all of our communities.
  3. Know when to get professional help. An active social life and self-care go a long way, but professionals are here for a reason.

We have a mission of service, and for everyone at Bethesda, service includes all aspects of senior care, including mental health. We are here for our residents and their loved ones, and we encourage everyone to seek the care they need on this year’s National Depression Screening Day.