Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Depression is a major issue for seniors during the coronavirus


TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – Late-life depression affects almost 6 million Americans aged 65 and older, but only about 10 percent receive treatment for it according to WebMD.

“The first thing I’d love to say about depression in the elderly, many people think it’s normal, they’re getting older they can’t see as well, they’re not driving, they’re in pain,” said Shawna Wasko, the program manager at the Office on Aging. “So, depression must be something they’re all going to experience and it’s not true. It’s abnormal at any age to be depressed.”

Depression in the elderly an also increase the risk of cardiac diseases and an increased risk of death from other illnesses. And during this pandemic it is even harder for those in assisted living facilities.

“Some of these facilities are still closed for visitation,” said Doctor Nathan Allen, from St. Luke’s clinic in Twin Falls. “I mean we’re talking people who are in a nursing facility in some cases with terminal health conditions and they’re visiting with their family through a window.”

There are ways to help fight off depression and it starts with determining if a senior does in fact have depression.

“We have to get our loved ones to a professional who can diagnose if this is depression,” said Wasko.

And beyond medical help there are ways people can help themselves and those around them.

“People that attend senior centers have less depression,” added Wasko. “We also know, they’ve done the tests, which people who have gone into a senior center for a meal and interact with others have less Alzheimer’s.”

And for the seniors in assisted living or can’t leave the house loved ones are encouraged to call or use video chat to let them know they’re cared for.

“If you talk to people who have grandchildren they’ll tell you that their joy in life is their family,” said Allan.

The best way to combat depression is to reach out.

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