Art of Aging: The Golden Years and Depression

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They may be called "the golden years," however, life for seniors isn't all leisure, reflection, and making dreams come true.

They may be called "the golden years," however, life for seniors isn't all leisure, reflection, and making dreams come true.

Dealing with that reality can trigger depression.

Main Line Health psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Cohen said, "Change or loss of job, medical illness, medical problems, and children moving away."

There's also evidence that some natural body changes in aging can contribute to it.

Financial worries, and the loss of loved ones are also common triggers.

Dr. Cohen says the signs of depression in seniors are largely the same as for other ages - being withdrawn, having a sad mood, a lack of energy, sleeping too much or too little.

But there are some age differences.

"Often times, older folks can present with confusion, memory problems - that is a little bit unique," said Dr. Cohen.

Dr. Cohen says grief after losing a loved one is normal, but when it continues for 6 months or more - or if the senior wants to join that loved one, it's time for help.

He says standard treatments, including psychotherapy, and sometimes medication, work about 80% of the time.

However, Dr. Cohen says seniors can do a lot to prevent mental ailments by keeping their bodies healthy.

A diet high in fish, green vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains, but low in unhealthy fats and sugars provides the energy for the exercise so important for a healthy brain.

Dr. Cohen added, "Some studies have shown that aerobic exercise on the order of 20 minutes to 30 minutes a day can be just as effective as adding an antidepressant. Being out in the fresh air is important - being social is part of staying well."

And, making older years closer to golden years.

For more information on health and seniors, visit the Art of Aging section.

Related Topics:
healthart of agingseniorsdepressionhealthcheck
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