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Signs of Depression Checklist

Look for the signs that an older loved one may be depressed and need help.

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Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem, but is not often recognized or treated, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A number of life changes can increase the risk for depression, or make existing depression worse. Caring for a spouse or family member also can add to those feelings of depression. According to the NIH, some of the other changes and life events are:

  • Adapting to a move from home to an apartment or retirement facility
  • Chronic pain
  • Feelings of isolation or loneliness as children move away and their spouse and close friends die
  • Loss of independence (problems getting around, caring for themselves, or driving)
  • Multiple illnesses
  • Struggles with memory loss and problems thinking clearly

Look for the signs that an older loved one may be depressed and need help:

  • Being more confused or forgetful.
  • Eating less. The refrigerator may be empty or contain spoiled food.
  • Not bathing or shaving as often. Visitors may notice smells of urine or stool. Clothes may be dirty and wrinkled.
  • Not taking care of the home.
  • Stopping medicines or not taking them correctly.
  • Withdrawing from others. Not talking as much, and not answering the phone or returning phone calls.

The support of a CAREGiverSM from Home Instead® can go a long way toward helping an older loved one who is depressed or suffering the strain of caring for a sick spouse or other family member.

For more information about depression, go to:

Readers also read the article: 10 Practical Coping Solutions for Chronic Conditions

Last revised: April 4, 2011

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Posted by Rebecca

    There is so much about care giving stress that focuses on the care giver not feeling like their doing enough, sad because of their 'loved' one's suffering etc. There is so little written about those caregivers that are good people and will take care of their aging parents because it's the right thing to do, but they hate every minute of it, because their parent is lazy, needlessly dependent, selfish, etc. Most of the people I know find their parent unpleasant and if they were truthful they don't love them and don't really feel loved by them. When you are a good person you can feel intensely trapped by the care of another person. I do and I have no way of knowing when it's going to end. I feel like I'm wasting my life away. I know there are plenty of people out there who feel the way I do. Not every elder is a 'loved' one - in fact most of the ones I know (not all mind you) are self indulgent pains in the ass. We as caregivers shouldn't constantly have to choose between our conscience and our happiness. I know there are those of you that will think I'm selfish, but I say this: I think those of us who take care of someone we don't love deserve a lot of credit maybe even more than those who care for someone they love.


    • August 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Posted by Amy D'Aprix

      Hi Rebecca - In working with older adults and their families I have known many, many caregivers who have come from families where they and their parents had a troubled relationship, or the parents were abusive as they were growing up. I have been amazed that, despite these incredibly difficult circumstances, the adult children have provided excellent care when their parents were older. I think this speaks to something in the human spirit: that we can call out our highest and best qualities and do what we feel is "right" - even for people who we believe did not do that for us. I also think it is especially important for caregivers caring for someone who is difficult or unappreciative to seek out support! There are actually a couple of books addressing the topic of caring for difficult older adults you might want to explore. You can go to and search: "Caregiving for difficult parents" and you'll find several books. I wish you all the best!


  2. February 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Posted by Mary L.

    Lenore: Sorry for your recent loss. You will feel better in time. I have lost both of my parents now, after years of caring for them. You have to go through the stages of grief--like making check lists of what went well, what didn't, what you could have changed and what you had no control over. Then come to peace with it knowing you did the best you could. Likely, if you are on this website, you cared a lot, and she was lucky to have you. Be proud of yourself and know that she appreciated whatever you did for her. Being with someone at the end of life's journey is an honour and a privilege.


  3. February 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Posted by lenore

    I buried my Mother yesterday...any thoughts on helping me with MY depression?


  4. January 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Posted by Leona Oglesby

    I took care of my mom and dad till they passed awat. My mother suffered so bad from depression only because she couldn't do what she use to do. I would do things with her that she enjoyed dping and made her help me. Of course I did most the work, and I can remember the smile on her face. Though she didn't do a lot it still gave her the feeling of accomplishment


  5. November 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Posted by Daniel

    you guys are worried about depression? yes, its horrible. but reading articles like this makes me wish my grandma was only depressed. im sorry for being rude. but im just mad and stressed out about the health of my grandma, and this article kind of gets me mad. in my eyes know that someone is depressed is sort of a luxury compared to my grandma. i know its an article thats suppose to help and i really do agree about the purpose of this website. but man god can just keep taking and taking


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