Addressing Depression Following a Dementia Diagnosis

A new study reveals how devastating a diagnosis of mental decline can be. Researchers found that rates of suicide raise substantially in the weeks and months following a dementia diagnosis. Consequently, following such a diagnosis, patients and their loved ones should be alert to an increase in symptoms of depression. Some of the most common signs that a loved one is beginning to experience depression include apathy, increased feelings of sadness, social withdrawal, and suicidal thoughts. 


After all, learning that a person has dementia or an associated condition can be troubling. The time that a diagnosis is made also appears to be influential in regards to suicide attempts. Many times, people who are in the early stages of mental decline are still capable of processing what dementia entails. These individuals might grow fearful of progressive cognitive decline and that they might end up “burdensome” to others. People in the early stages of mental decline are also more capable than individuals in full-blown dementia to successfully carry out a suicide attempt. 


Despite these dangers, many caregivers avoid talking to elderly patients directly about any thoughts that they might have about suicide. Many times, loved ones and caregivers want to avoid asking such questions due to concerns that doing so will trigger suicidal thoughts. This, however, is often not the case and patients frequently are willing to acknowledge these thoughts, which can lead caregivers and loved ones to end up providing help. 


How to Help an Elderly Loved One Struggling with Depression 


Disengagement is a common symptom associated with depression. Whether disengaging from one’s family or loved ones or disengaging from activities that were once enjoyed, it’s a good idea for caregivers to create a tool for helping loved ones who are struggling with depression. Some of the things that you can do to help include: 


  • It’s understandable to worry about your loved one’s condition, but it’s a good idea to do whatever you can to remain calm. Being overly anxious or concerned often only makes the situation worse. Instead, it’s often best to focus on encouraging your loved one to open up and have a compassionate conversation.
  • Loneliness is a substantial factor in depression among aging individuals. Affording your loved one as much time and care as possible can be invaluable. 
  • Loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms associated with depression and can lead to substantial weight loss and fatigue. As a result, it’s critical to make sure that your loved one is receiving proper nourishment. 
  • It’s not uncommon for some elderly individuals to feel resistance when it comes to receiving treatment for depression. It’s also important to present your idea gently and slowly. It can be a good idea to help your loved one recognize the symptoms of depression and to recognize that they might have a problem.


Contact a Compassionate Elder Law Attorney


If you or your loved one needs the assistance of a lawyer experienced in elder law, do not hesitate to contact Ettinger Law Firm.

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