Elderly Depression: Awareness and Compassion For Singaporean Seniors

The golden years are, after all, meant to be a period of fun and rest after exerting themselves for the majority of adulthood. This isn't the scenario, though, for some of our older family members who, in their latter years, deal with mental health conditions that limit their ability to live fully.

What Is Elderly Depression?

​Be careful not to disregard your elderly parents' unexpected fluctuating emotions, withdrawal, or constant complaints of pain and discomfort. These might be symptoms of senior depression, a serious illness that is treatable and preventable.

Generally, elderly depression affects those aged 65 and older and is considered to be a serious mental and emotional condition. The widespread presence of depression among older Singaporeans is approximately 5.5%, as per the Institute of Mental Health's Well-being of the Singapore Elderly study. Sadness and occasional gloomy moods are common, but persistent depression is not a typical effect of aging. If depression is not addressed, it can seriously lower the quality of life and raise the risk of suicide among the elderly population. A higher chance of later acquiring dementia is also linked to late-life mental illness.

What Are the Underlying Causes?


According to research, 41,200 Singaporeans over 65 lived independently in 2015; the Singapore Ministry of Health predicts this number would more than quadruple to 83,000 by the year 2030. Of these individuals, 3.7% of Singaporeans aged 60 and above have depression. 

Many older Singaporeans choose to live alone and stay engaged and active in their golden years, yet some feel lonely and fall into melancholy. It is particularly true if they've experienced the loss of a spouse in their later years or if their children and family reside away from them. Thankfully, assistance is available from professional psychiatrists who are knowledgeable about the psychological disorders that elderly residents might go through and who can support the elderly living alone in Singapore through the difficult times of loss and depression by way of their mental health helpline.

Mobility Constraints

Physical deterioration cause older people to lose their independence by preventing them from engaging in simple activities like going for a stroll outside or even spending time with friends and family. 

They may suddenly require others to provide for them after years of taking care of their family. The most fundamental activities, such as taking a self-bath or preparing food, may not be met as we age. Age-related decline in mobility and independence can make older persons irate and poses an immediate risk to behavioral changes. In addition to assisting the elderly in learning to deal with their physical limitations, a psychiatrist may also help caregivers better understand the mental well being of elderly patients.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Anxiety and depression develop as a senior individual begins to experience memory loss and confusion as early symptoms. Art therapy, generally, has been demonstrated to be helpful for elderly people who are suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's, even though there is no treatment for mental decline. Elderly folks who participate in art therapy benefit from improved coordination, more flexible wrists and hands, improved cognitive function, and brain stimulation. Additionally, art therapy offers lonely seniors the chance to socialize and feel less consumed by their loneliness and geriatric depression.

Self-Esteem Issues

An aging person may feel like a burden to those around them if they require assistance with basic necessities because of mental or physical decline. Also, seniors can begin to lose their own sense of self-worth and descend into a serious depression if they feel that they are no longer helpful. By remaining patient, sympathetic, and compassionate, family and friends may help an aging loved one feel more confident.

Biological Risk Factors

Genetic Factors. Comprehensive proof supports the idea that genetics significantly influences a person's propensity to develop depression, particularly melancholic, psychotic, and bipolar disorders. It is more likely that a group of genes—rather than one gene—will be at fault.

Biochemical Factors. Since our understanding of the human brain continues to be rather limited, we cannot really say for sure what exactly occurs in the brain to trigger depression. It is probable that neurotransmitter function is compromised in the majority of clinical depression cases.

Physical Illness. In a way, even if the physical sickness fails to make us feel depressed, sadness can be caused by physical illness since it can reduce our mood when we are sick, in pain or uncomfortable, restricted, and unable to do the activities we like.

Gender. It is typically a partial, but insufficient, explanation for why people may experience depression. Men and women experience severe depression in equal amounts. Also, studies have found that women are far more likely than males to experience non-melancholic depression, nevertheless.

Psychosocial Risk Factors

People respond to stresses in various ways throughout their lives; some manage them and emotionally recuperate within a few days, while other times stress can be enduring and an imminent danger for depression, for instance by lowering their self-esteem and inciting shame. These risks may consist of:

  • Depression in adulthood is more likely to occur if you were raised in an abusive or neglectful home.

  • Financial problems and career loss.

  • loss of a loved one or the dissolution of a marriage or close connection.

  • Having fallen short of their own or others' standards.

What Are Its Symptoms?

Older adults are more susceptible to depression and mental health issues than younger generations. Many times, the symptoms of various illnesses and the medications used to treat them are mistaken for depression in elderly people. In older persons, depression frequently coexists with medical conditions and functional limitations and lasts longer.

Depression frequently manifests as:

  • Isolations and Loneliness

  • Constant Crying

  • An Overwhelming Sense of Worthlessness or Hopelessness

  • Sleep Issues

  • Changes in Appetite

  • Angst or Irritability

  • Exhaustion

  • Inability to Focus

  • Aversion to Other People

  • Loss of Enthusiasm for Pastimes or Activities That Were Formerly Enjoyed

  • Undiagnosed Pain and Discomfort

  • Issues with Memory

Is There a Way to Prevent Depression?

When you're depressed, you might not want to do anything or see anyone. However, you should strive to interact with people and limit your time alone because isolation only serves to exacerbate depression.

  • Take part in worthwhile social interactions.

  • Exercise gently or participate in group fitness activities.

  • Get enough fresh air.

  • Discover a new passion or activity.

  • Have a nutritious, balanced diet.

  • Take time to rest.

In fact, there are therapies for depression, and two of these treatments include prescriptions and talk therapy. Therefore, voice your concerns to your healthcare provider and ask for assistance here.

What You Can Do to Support Them

Seeing an elderly loved one get depressed can be unpleasant for you, and you as a family member can even feel powerless. However, there are some other ways anyone of us might be able to do to offer emotional support and improve the situation.

Recognize Depression in Your Senior Loved One

Do keep in mind that having depression is different from having a depressed mood; the latter occurs when the person's mind is overloaded and unable to handle the situation. The brain gets rewired, people remain in that condition for a time, and it interferes with their capacity to carry out their daily tasks effectively. Finding the source of the depression is an important first step in providing your older loved one the support and care they require to recover.

Make Use of Medical Experts’ Advice

Speak with their usual healthcare providers, such as their doctor if you have any reason to believe that an older relative of yours is depressed. Ask for their aid to analyze or evaluate your loved one, or ask for a recommendation for services that might be of assistance to your elderly loved one who's struggling with elderly depression Singapore.

Try to Maintain a Line of Communication

Building an open connection with your senior loved one is an excellent way to give them the confidence to come to you for assistance or support if they ever need it. Spend every moment with them and engage with them regularly so that you can more easily see their behavioral changes.

Elderly depression cannot be treated universally, and each individual will experience its symptoms and effects differently. Given that depression and mental deterioration may pose a complicated problem that is difficult to handle, there is truly a need for mental health awareness more than ever, so refrain from being reluctant to seek help and support from several mental health's helpline. Making arrangements for dementia care in Singapore or a home for the aged Singapore is the beginning of your journey toward improving the quality of life for your elderly loved one. 

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