In older adults dementia and depression often have common symptoms which can make it difficult to identify the differences. And depression is a common in people who have dementia and early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Learning to recognize the signs of each is important for caregivers and medical professionals in order to minimize the risk misdiagnosis. This can lead to someone getting the wrong treatment, or not getting treatment at all.
Common Signs of Depression In Older Adults
While depression affects people in many different ways, the common signs of depression in older adults include:
- spending most of the time in a sad, hopeless or irritable mood
- loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, or withdrawing from social situations
- difficult remembering, concentrating or making decisions
- disturbed sleep including sleeping more than usual or waking up very early in the morning
- eating too little or too much, leading to weight loss or gain
Common Signs of Dementia In Older Adults
Someone with dementia may have:
- changes in mood including mood swings quickly going from calm to agitated
- losing interest in activities they once enjoyed or becoming withdrawn and irritable
- difficulty completing every tasks like cooking, bathing or getting dressed
- misplacing items frequently and not being able to re-trace their steps to find them
- a decreased lack in judgment when paying bills including forgetting to pay them, paying too much or giving not being able to balance a checkbook
My Loved One Shows Signs of Dementia and Depression
It is possible for someone in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s to become depressed. Not being able to complete every days tasks and being frightened about changes in the memory can contribute.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that up to 40 percent of people with Alzheimer’s disease suffer from significant depression.
How to Tell The Difference Between Dementia and Depression
Figuring out if someone has dementia, depression, or both, can be difficult especially when they have many of the same signs. If you are a loved one or caregiver take careful notes on what you are observing on a day to day basis and consult a medical provider who can provide a complete evaluation.
If they determine your loved one is experiencing depression, with or without dementia, they may suggest professional counseling, medications and plenty of support from family and friends. Expecting them to just get better or decide to be happy again does not often work and can lead to disappointment.
Dementia or Depression Course
On January 12, 2016 The Memory Center, Richmond and BrightStar Care of Richmond will sponsor a course designed to help social workers and health care professionals identify dementia or depression in older adults.
This program will provide the tools necessary to recognize the difference between the two and respond to the appropriate condition. Attendees will learn to:
- Recognize the prevalence and symptoms of dementia
- Recognize the prevalence and symptoms of depression
- Differentiate between dementia and depression based on history, presenting symptoms and case study examples