When growing older we enter a new phase of life which can offer more time and freedom. We will face, however, a different set of challenges which may include:
- finishing work
- living on less money
- less mobility and energy to get about
- health problems
- the death of a partner or friends
- less social contact
- living alone
While depression is not an inevitable part of getting older it’s common for older people, like others, to feel low at times and experience depression or anxiety. And we’ve all had to cope with more isolation and uncertainity during the pandemic.
Other factors can come into play which could also affect our mental health when we get older.
- Some physical conditions like thyroid problems and arthritis can give symptoms like those of depression or anxiety such as difficulty sleeping, lack of energy and loss of appetite.
- It’s common for people with dementia to also experience depression at times during their illness – indeed depression and dementia have some similar symptoms which can make them difficult to tell apart.
- People experiencing and coming to terms with a long-term health condition such as cancer or heart disease may experience low moods and depression.
- Older people can start to feel more anxious about their health, whether or not there is an actual problem. This anxiety can affect the memory and cause confusion which then creates more worry and low moods.
- Depression is also often experienced by people looking after someone with long-term conditions like dementia because of the stresses and pressures that they can face each day.
Age UK has some helpful information about emotional support for older people.