Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Depression in seniors

One of the most insidious mental health issues is depression. Unseen, untreated, unidentified, it can make a life not worth living. It is

For some of us seniors, we are able to retire. Many of us are able to do so, and volunteer in order to give back to our communities. We find health and happiness, a purpose in life.
Approximately one-fifth of Canadian men and women aged 55 to 64 and 65 to 74 report that they are satisfied with their life and that they are in good health (Statistics Canada, 2005).

Some suffer from clinical depression.
Mental illness is often identified earlier than in our golden years.

Symptoms of clinical depression can accompany other illnesses common later in life, such as Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Without work, a purpose in life, love, or the loss of family and friends, loneliness and isolation can lead to depression.

But the stigma associated with mental illness often prevents seniors from seeking treatment, and without treatment, depression can lead to destructive behavior and thoughts of suicide. Our inability, as family members, to identify depression in loved ones prevents a diagnosis.

Comprising only 12% of the U.S. population (13% of the Canadian population), individuals aged 65 and older account for 16% of all suicide deaths, with white males being particularly vulnerable.
Depression isn't necessarily a result of illness, but caused by changes in life circumstances.

When it comes to senior suicide, don't be afraid to ask tough questions...

24 Mar 2011 – Globe & Mail

In the 65 - 74 age group, suicide went down.

2003 - 247
2007 - 217

During the same five-year period, there was a gradual increase in suicides involving Canadians between the ages of 75 and 89.
2003 - 172
2007 - 221

National Depression Screening Day, held tomorrow (October 6) at 1,500 sites nationwide, gives people access to an anonymous validated, screening questionnaire and provides referral information for treatment. Visit to find a local organization offering depression and anxiety screenings, or take a free, anonymous screening online.

Other Sources

  • Conn, David. (2002). An Overview of Common Mental Disorders among Seniors. Writings in Gerontology. National Advisory Council on Aging.
  • MacAdam, M. (2000). Home Care: It's Time for a Canadian Model.HealthcarePapers (1[4]: 9-36). Retrieved from
  • Ontario Seniors' Secretariat (2005). A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario. Toronto: Ministry of Citizenship. Available
  • Public Health Agency of Canada, Division of Aging and Seniors,
  • Statistics Canada (2005). General Social Survey - Aging Well: Time Use Patterns of Older Canadians. Available at

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