Mental Health Minute-Englewood Hospital-Nursing Home Residents and Depression
Taken from their monthly newsletter:
Nursing Home Residents and Depression
It is determined that as many as half of all older people living in nursing homes suffer from depression severe enough to effect their functioning and quality of life. Although common among older people, it is not a normal part of getting older. Depression in older people, including those living in nursing homes, often is not recognized because of other medical illnesses involved. Some signs and symptoms of depression include:
*Agitation or irritability
*Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
*Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
*Weight loss or gain
*Lack of energy
*Trouble concentrating or making decisions
*Thoughts of death or suicide
Sometimes, depression is mistaken for dementia, because both conditions can affect the older person’s ability to concentrate and remember things. It is very important that an accurate diagnosis is made. When diagnosing depression using ‘screening’ tests to diagnose depression and determine how severe it is. Some signs of depression can also be signs of a medical concern. In general, if no medical cause is found for the nursing home resident’s changes in behavior and if the signs have been present for two weeks or more, depression may be diagnosed.
Facts about screening for depression among nursing home residents:
*Nursing home residents should be screened for depression 2 to 4 weeks after they are admitted to the nursing home.
*Nursing home residents should be screened for depression every 6 months.
*Tools that health care providers can use include the “Geriatric Depression Scale” the “Beck Depression Inventory” and the “Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia”.
*Nursing home residents who have ideas of suicide should be referred immediately to a mental health professional.
What can be done to help the nursing home residents with depression?
*Help staff to identify activities that bring meaning and joy to the nursing home resident. Let the staff know what specific activities have been important to a loved one in the past.
*Talk to the nursing home staff about what you are seeing. Ask the nursing assistants and nurses about behaviors they are seeing.
*Contact the social worker for additional help. Contract a clergy person or chaplain if appropriate.
*Tell the nursing home staff immediately if your loved one talks about committing suicide.
*Look around at the environment of the nursing home. Plants, pets and other touches like family photos may help make it feel like home. Regular family visits can help too.
*Help the staff to monitor the effect of the treatments. Watch for improvements or negative changes.
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Englewood Hospital newsletter and I give them full credit for it. For more information, please refer to the hospital’s website.