Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dementia is Linked to Depression and Anxiety

In a number of recent posts, this blog has covered how senior citizens can postpone or even eliminate their dementia risk by making lifestyle changes such as following the MIND diet, getting enough exercise, socializing more, playing brain games, learning new skills, and sleeping well.  People who want to protect their cognitive ability will want to know that untreated depression and anxiety are also linked to a higher dementia risk.

If you are interested in doing everything possible to avoid or postpone dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease, then it is important to take a multi-faceted approach to keeping your brain as healthy as possible.   If you have elderly parents or other relatives, you may want to apply some of this research to their care, too.  They will be happier, healthier and easier to care for if their brain is functioning optimally, which will make life easier for you, as well.

Symptoms of Depression in Senior Citizens

Younger adults show signs of depression when they appear to be sad, exhibit a loss of interest in their favorite activities, are agitated easily, or have angry outbursts.  While seniors can have the same symptoms of depression, they may also have symptoms which are not always identified as indicators of depression.   

Watch for the symptoms of depression and anxiety listed below:

Memory difficulties
Slower thinking
Trouble concentrating
Personality changes
Physical aches and pains which are unexplained
Fatigue
Either the loss of appetite or overeating
Sleep problems
Isolation ... a desire to stay home most of the time
Suicidal thoughts, especially in older men
Dwelling on thoughts of death

Medical Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

If you or a family member is experiencing the above symptoms, you should report the symptoms to a doctor right away.  The sooner depression is treated, the less damage it will do.

A doctor can make sure there is not an underlying medical issue causing the symptoms.
A doctor can prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
A doctor may also recommend a therapist; talk therapy usually does help, especially when combined with medications.

How to Help Yourself with Depression and Anxiety

There are also actions you can take on your own to lessen the depth of your depression and anxiety, but you should do these things in addition to seeking medical help, not instead of it.  Remember, not only do you want to improve your mood, but you also want to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's Disease and other types of dementia.

How to Reduce Your Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

Learn relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
Get plenty of exercise and spend time in the sunshine and fresh air, when possible.
Take classes in yoga, Tai Chi or similar relaxing forms of exercise.
Practice mindful meditation.
Try journaling; writing about your problems can reduce depression.

Depression is closely linked to dementia, although it is not the only factor.  Maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle will also reduce your risk.  Check out other the articles in the Medical Concerns section of this blog explaining all the ways you can lower your Alzheimers and dementia risk.  No one wants to lose their memory at the end of their life, if they can avoid it.

If you want to learn more about common medical problems as we age, retirement planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit: morguefile.com

2 comments:

  1. Excellent article with interesting links between depression and dementia.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was surprised that there is such a strong link between depression and dementia. We all need to take care of our mental health if we want to reduce our dementia risk!

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