Does My Aging Parent Have Depression or Dementia?

by | Jul 4, 2022 | Dementia

Dementia and depression have similar symptoms, which can make it difficult for a doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis. The keys to successfully determining whether your senior loved one is experiencing depression, dementia, or a combination of the two are careful observation, ongoing communication with doctors, and an understanding of the subtle differences between the conditions. 

Signs of Depression

Depending on the severity of depression, symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness can easily be mistaken for dementia. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little down now and then. However, it’s not considered clinical depression unless such feelings are coupled with persistent hopelessness, sadness, and a general lack of energy. Depression can also be caused by frustration with the healing process while recovering from surgery or an injury or an accidental combination of prescription and over-the-counter medications. General symptoms of depression include: 

  • Increased anxiety for no apparent reason
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Changes in sleeping habits (sleeping too much or not being able to sleep through the night)
  • Lack of attention to what’s being said (sometimes misinterpreted as confusion)

Mental and emotional challenges are common for many aging adults, but seniors don’t have to handle them alone. In-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at InCasa Home Care Services, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. Our caregivers encourage seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia isn’t a disease. Rather, it’s a term that describes a set of symptoms that are typically characterized by memory loss and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and traumatic brain injuries are among the most common causes of dementia. In general, if a senior has dementia, his or her memory decreases to the point where he or she becomes unable to perform daily tasks. In addition to memory loss, aging adults with dementia often have difficulty with communication, reasoning, visual perception, and the ability to focus. 

Cognitive and emotional issues can have a significant impact on a senior’s overall health and wellbeing, so they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care. Edmonton families can rely on InCasa Home Care Services to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

When Depression Is Really Dementia

Depression and dementia are so closely related that even close family members may have difficulty sorting out the signs of both conditions. When a diagnosis can’t be positively made, doctors tend to treat obvious signs of depression while encouraging careful observation to spot signs that may indicate the presence of a dementia-related condition. Possible indications that depression is really dementia may include: 

  • Not being able to remember names, facts, or recent conversations even when prompted
  • Being unable to correctly determine time and place (not typical of depression)
  • Attempting to cover up forgetfulness (people who are depressed tend to not worry about keeping up appearances)

If your loved one has a dementia-related condition, it won’t be unusual for him or her to realize something is happening during moments of clarity, which may result in depression. Due to the difficulties associated with making an accurate diagnosis, treatments can vary greatly. However, it’s worth noting that some forms of dementia can be successfully reversed with medications that boost chemical messengers within the brain to enhance memory and judgment. 

While dementia and depression can be challenging for seniors, both conditions can be addressed with the right care and support. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Edmonton families can rely on InCasa Home Care Services to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. To learn more about our premier in-home care plans, call us at 587-609-6854 today.

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