Settling into a nursing home or other long-term care facility is a huge upheaval for an older person. It means suddenly being much more dependent upon others. The person has to get used to new surroundings. They probably also had to give up driving and socializing with friends the way they used to do.
Accepting all that would be very challenging for anyone. For someone who is aging and has health issues, it can be daunting, even when a nursing home may be the safest, most appropriate environment for them.
Depression can result. Other causes can include coping with chronic illness, the aftermath of a stroke, poor mobility, the side effects of certain medications and isolation or poor care by the nursing home staff.
Why is depression in nursing home residents often ignored?
Depression in people living in nursing homes is quite common. The American Geriatrics Society estimates that forty% of nursing home residents suffer from depression.
There are some typical reasons that it goes unnoticed:
- Depression can be incorrectly construed as dementia
- Nursing home employees sometimes think depression is “a normal part of aging”
- If the nursing home is understaffed, they may simply ignore the signs of depression in a resident
- If your relative is the victim of abuse by staff, their depression may be a sign of deeper problems
None of that is acceptable. Family members can help alleviate a loved one’s depression by making sure they have access to counseling, medication and social activities that can help them feel less isolated. However, depression can become a serious health issue. An older loved one with depression may stop eating, taking care of their personal hygiene and develop suicidal thoughts. Depression needs to be addressed medically and treated with the seriousness it deserves.
When nursing home personnel ignore your relative’s condition
Nursing home neglect can take many forms, and that includes mental and emotional abuse. If you believe your loved one was neglected or abused, mentally or physically, while in nursing care, find out more about your legal options.