June 2007, Volume 37 Number 6 , p 22 - 23
Murphy, Kathryn NP, CS, MSN
Kathryn Murphy is a member of the nursing faculty at Muskegon (Mich.) Community College.
DEPRESSION, the most common psychiatric disorder in older adults, is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Some signs and symptoms, such as lack of concentration, memory loss, and difficulty making decisions, may be mistakenly attributed to dementia rather than depression. Some health care providers believe that depression is a normal and unavoidable response to chronic illness, and many patients share that view. So even when depression is recognized, it may be undertreated.
Whether unrecognized or untreated, depression impairs an older adult's ability to function and diminishes her quality of life. It also dramatically increases her suicide risk.
Fortunately, depression is treatable. In this article, I'll tell you how to assess an older adult for depression so you can steer her toward help.
“Down in the dumps,” and more