The elderly are at risk for depression and in America, some 6 million seniors will be diagnosed. Risk factors include lack of social support, living alone, and illness- long term or terminal. Commonly those suffering from Alzheimer’s related dementia are more likely to develop depression, as well as those suffering from Parkinson’s, heart disease, cancer or stroke.

At Home health care Georgia provider,Regency Home Care, a large percentage of our client base are individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. We are constantly working to provide the highest possible level of care for our clients. One way we do this is by providing useful tips and information to our clients, caregivers and family members.

Research shows that there is a link between Alzheimer’s and depression, though we still do not fully understand all the ways in which these two issues are related. While 40-50% of those suffering from Alzheimer’s will exhibit symptoms of depression, some of these symptoms are similar to those of dementia. When attempting to ascertain if a senior is suffering depression or dementia, experts in geriatric psychiatry observe five distinct areas when making a determination.

Memory: A common symptom of depression is inability to concentrate and occasional forgetfulness which often further aggravates the person’s mood while those with Alzheimer’s are consistently unable to store new information (Short Term Memory Loss) due to loss of brain cells.

Orientation: Someone who is depressed is generally alert to his/her surroundings, with whom they are speaking, time and place; those with dementia are often confused about any or all of these things.

Use of Language: Someone who is depressed, though lethargic sounding at times, still has command of their language skills. Someone with Alzheimer’s will often display “word finding” struggles or use “word substitution” when searching for the name of a once familiar object.

Familiar Objects: Someone with depression, though they may appear withdrawn or disinterested, still recalls the names of everyday objects and how to use them where the Alzheimer’s patient will often find difficulty in performing a certain task such as operating the microwave oven or tying their shoes. The term for this is apraxia- difficulty remembering how to perform a previously learned tasks or performing the steps in the wrong order.

Negativity: Depressed people often behave or react negatively to things, predict the outcome of an event will be bad, or will display a sense of failure over events. Conversely, someone with Alzheimer’s may attempt to make excuses for how something turned out, creating excuses for their lapses in memory or word loss.

If someone you love is suffering from depression, or Alzheimer’s related dementia, please contact your health care provider for treatment options. At Regency Home Care, our CNAs provide kind and caring support for your loved ones that not only benefits our clients by improving their quality of life but also affords family members a much needed breather from the challenges of caring for a loved one with a long-term health problem.