Clinical depression in the elderly is common. … But only 10% receive treatment for depression. The likely reason is that the elderly often display symptoms of depression differently. Depression in the elderly is also frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses and the medicines used to treat them.

Geriatric depression is a mental and emotional disorder affecting older adults. Feelings of sadness and occasional “blue” moods are normal.

What are the signs of depression in the elderly?

Depression red flags include:

  • Recognizing depression in the elderly starts with knowing the signs and symptoms. Depression red flags include:
  • Sadness or feelings of despair
  • Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness)
  • Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing
  • Slowed movement or speech
  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Fixation on death; thoughts of suicide
  • Memory problems, slowed movement and speech
  • Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene)

Can aging cause depression?

There is evidence that some natural body changes associated with aging may increase a person’s risk of experiencing depression. … Regardless of its cause, depression can have alarming physical effects on older people.

What causes depression in elderly?

Physical conditions like stroke, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and chronic pain further increase the risk of depression. Additionally, the following risk factors for depression are often seen in the elderly: Loneliness, Isolation, bereavement, other people’s dependency for daily living help.

Medical conditions that can cause elderly depression

It’s important to be aware that medical problems can cause depression in older adults and the elderly, either directly or as a psychological reaction to the illness. Any chronic medical condition, particularly if it is painful, disabling, or life-threatening, can lead to depression or make your depression symptoms worse.

These include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Is it grief or depression?

As we age, we experience many losses. Loss is painful—whether it’s a loss of independence, mobility, health, your long-time career, or someone you love. Grieving over these losses is normal and healthy, even if the feelings of sadness last for a long time.

Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy, since they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference.

  • Grief is a roller coaster involving a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’ll still have moments of pleasure or happiness.
  • With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
  • While there’s no set timetable for grieving, if it doesn’t let up over time or extinguishes all signs of joy—laughing at a good joke, brightening in response to a hug, appreciating a beautiful sunset—it may be depression.

 Side Effects From Medications

Symptoms of depression can also occur as a side effect of many commonly prescribed drugs. You’re particularly at risk if you’re taking multiple medications. While the mood-related side effects of prescription medication can affect anyone, older adults are more sensitive because, as we age, our bodies become less efficient at metabolizing and processing drugs.

Medications that can cause or worsen depression include:

  • Blood pressure medication (e.g. clonidine)
  • Beta-blockers (e.g. Lopressor, Inderal)
  • High-cholesterol drugs (e.g. Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor)
  • Tranquilizers (e.g. Valium, Xanax, Halcion)
  • Calcium-channel blockers
  • Medication for Parkinson’s disease
  • Sleeping pills
  • Ulcer medication (e.g. Zantac, Tagamet)
  • Heart drugs containing reserpine
  • Steroids (e.g. cortisone and prednisone)
  • Painkillers and arthritis drugs
  • Estrogens (e.g. Premarin, Prempro)

By understanding the causes, signs and symptoms of depression, care and healthcare professionals can ensure their provision fully supports the clients needs.

Prepare2Care can provide courses that give your staff the skills and understanding they need to provide outstanding care.

Contact us to find out how we can support your companies needs.


“Nearly half of adults (7.7million) aged 55+ say they have experienced depression and around the same number (7.3 million) have suffered with anxiety, according to new YouGov research for the charity Age UK – revealing the scale of the mental health challenge facing older people in the UK today.”

NHS England article Half of adults aged 55 and over have experienced common mental health problems, say Age UK explores Age UK’s findings from recent research.

With mental health becoming more talked about and explored it is important to ensure that older people are provided for within treatment and support within our community and social care.

Prepare2Care is pleased to announce our new courses.

We are able to provide tailored packages for your business and staff needs in the following areas:

  • Understanding Diabetes
  • Understanding and Supporting an Individual with Dementia
  • End of Life Care and Bereavement
  • Mental Capacity Act & Deprivation of Liberties  (Better known as MCA & DOLS)
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
  • Mental Health and Associated Illness Such as Depression and Self Neglect
  • Risk Assessment for Senior Staff
  • Catheter & Stoma Care
  • Understanding Parkinson’s Disease
  • Managing Complaints
  • Conducting Investigations into Allegations of Abuse
  • People Moving & Assisting
  • Management of Medication for Care Staff
  • The Auditing Process (MAR Chart & Client Communication Books)

We continue to provide to training towards the standards for the Care Certificate and now additionally offer a Standard Induction Programme.

Contact us for more information on how we can meet your business’s needs.

Have you ever considered you own mental health needs?

The Mental Health Foundation has developed a tool to show you how your positive mental health scores compared to the national average.



This week our focus will be on mental health, for everyone in society, but with an emphasis on on those in within the care sector.

Mental health can be seen positively: to identify a positive state of mental wellbeing or negatively: to identify a negative state of mental wellbeing, for example, experiencing mental health problems that cause distress and affect an individual’s functioning.

There are numerous mental health conditions including psychosis, depression, mood disorder and anxiety. In any year, 1 in 4 adults in Britain will experience at least one mental health need (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report).


Definition of Mental Health

Mental health has been described as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ according to The World Health Organisation. They further note ‘mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

‘A person’s mental health is affected by individual factors and experiences, social interaction, societal structures, resources and cultural values. It is influenced by: experiences in everyday life, in families and schools, on streets and at work’.

The Northern Ireland Association for mental health note the key elements experienced by a person with positive mental health. Positive mental health as opposed to the absence of mental health issues:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Life satisfaction
  • Optimism/hope
  • Self-esteem
  • Resilience/coping
  • Social integration

So put in extremely simple terms being mentally healthy is a combination of physical, emotional and social wellbeing. It’s important to remember however that mental health may be seen on a continuum of good mental health to mental disorder and finally mental illness and most people will move up and down that continuum to a degree though not all will experience a mental disorder and less still a mental illness.


Some people think that depression is not a condition and that it will simply go away. This is not true; it is an illness with recognised symptoms but it is treatable. Most people experience feelings of sadness or being down; however living with depression is different. An individual experiencing depression will feel emotions such as hopelessness and negativity that don’t go away.

Symptoms of depression can last for a couple of weeks, a number of months or longer. Living with depression can affect how an individual sees themselves. This can lead to them not engaging in a social life, with family or their work. There are treatments available to support people with depression. In some cases, having the opportunity to talk and share how they feel can help. There are various organisations that support individuals who are experiencing depression and provide further information on the condition. One example is the ‘Depression Alliance’:


Feeling worried or anxious is normal, many people experience things in life that create these feelings. However, those living with anxiety find it difficult to control their worries. As a result they may feel that things are worse than they are. This can create a number of other symptoms including:

  • physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, difficulty breathing and dizziness
  • psychological symptoms such as feeling a loss of control, thinking that they might die or have a heart attack, and feelings of wanting to escape or run away
  • cognitive symptoms such as changes to your thought processes or thinking negative

thoughts repeatedly behavioural or social symptoms such as not wanting to leave the house, abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs, or behaving in ways that affect relationships. Individuals may stop going out with friends, or to places such as the supermarket, as they are worried about how they might feel when they are there.


Psychological symptoms relate to feelings and emotions, it includes how the mind looks at things and how this can affect behaviour.


Cognitive or cognition refers to our brains and how we think about things; how we process, use and store information we take in through our senses.


Psychosis is a symptom of conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. NHS Choices say that around 3 in 100 people will have at least one experience of psychosis.

There are two significant signs of psychosis:

Hallucinations – where a person sees or hears things that aren’t real but are very real to them. They can also include feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t real.

Delusions – where a person believes things that aren’t true, for example believing that someone is

spying on them.


This condition can be described as having a break from reality, when it is difficult for a person to understand what is real and what is in their own thoughts. Symptoms could include hallucinations, delusions and changes in behaviour.

Bipolar Disorder

This condition affects a person’s moods and means they can go from one extreme mood to another alongside having feelings of depression.

These experiences can be frightening and lead to behaving in ways that others find strange. One way of supporting someone who is experiencing hallucinations or delusions is to embrace what they are saying or doing. Rather than telling them that you can’t see or hear what they are seeing or hearing, let them know that you are there to help and that they are safe. This could avoid them feeling you don’t believe them and could help ease their stress. Although you do not share in their hallucination or delusion, you do know that it is a real experience for them. Most symptoms of psychosis will get better with treatment. However, in some cases people may have to be admitted to hospital for treatment and support to recover. If your organisation provides care for people with psychosis, speak to your manager about how individuals’ needs are assessed.

An individual may experience a mental health need as a result of:

  • a traumatic event, such as an accident, a death in the family or as a result of war
  • a chemical imbalance in the brain genetics, for example, a person’s additional needs

may be due to their DNA.

Chemical Imbalance

The chemicals or hormones that affect our emotions and behaviour may be lower or higher than they should be. However, the significance of any such chemical imbalances is highly disputed, with the result that there are professional disagreements about how effective various mental health medicines can be.

Mental health problems might be a result of a specific situation (that is ‘reactive’), but that is far from being always true. In any case, such conditions can vary from short-term to being lifelong.

Where to go for support

There are a number of organisations who are working to support people who experience mental ill-health and can provide further information. These include the ‘Mental Health Foundation’ Rethink and ‘Mind’.

You can use their websites to find out more:

We provide bespoke training for Mental Health along with Care Certificate Awareness.

We provide courses that either give the learner awareness of mental health or provides a more detailed understanding that supports people in how to Recognise, Respond, Report and Record. Thus ensuring that the correct medical help and social support is identified for the individual and for the care worker to be in a position to understand how to support an individual on a day to day basis.


This week we have been looking at loneliness in the elderly population and to round up the topic Loneliness in Old Age by Springcare discusses some simple, accessible ways to tackle loneliness and isolation.

They suggest:

  1. Spending time outside the home – visit parks, museums, libraries and galleries.
  2. Using the internet – social media is easy to use with a little guidance, there are groups for quilting, crafts, birdwatching, the list is endless, plus you can also use video phone applications to talk to your nearest and dearest no matter how far away.
  3. Joining local groups – craft groups, historical groups, book groups, there are many meeting places to go, ask someone to come with you are unsure of where to go.
  4. Carry on learning – your local county council provides a range of adult learning courses, you could learn to play the guitar or become an operatic singer.
  5. Volunteering – there are countless organisations who require volunteers to support them, and your friendly face welcoming someone at the hospital doors could be just what they need or your love of animals might be ideal for helping at an animal sanctuary.

You can read the full article here



Set up in 2011 The Campaign To End Loneliness was brought about to tackle loneliness and isolation in older age.

“The Campaign to End Loneliness believes that nobody who wants company should be without it.  We want to make this happen by ensuring that:

  1. People most at risk of loneliness are reached and supported
  2. Services and activities are more effective at addressing loneliness
  3. A wider range of loneliness services and activities are developed”

You can find out more information at

Elderly people are vulnerable to becoming lonely and socially isolated. They become cut off from society and more than 1 million people say they can go over a month without speaking to a friend, family member or neighbour.

Age UK has developed the Befriending Service where a volunteer visits or talks to an older person in their home.

You can find out more and arrange a weekly phone call at







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“Amanda has a wealth of knowledge and experience of the social care industry. The help, support and encouragement that Amanda provided was invaluable but most of all her enthusiasm and can do attitude. Prepare2Care also support us with our care team training requirements, John’s engaging professional training is of the highest standard.

Thank you to Amanda and the team at Prepare2Care, we look forward to a healthy long term working relationship.”

Rajan Solanki                                                                                      


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Did you know that even a basis knowledge of first aid could make the difference between saving a life or not?

The St Johns Ambulance have developed an app which allows you to access life saving tips and information right at your fingertips and is available for free from your app store.

They also have one for cyclist first aid too.

What are you waiting for? You never know when you might need to use it.