What You Need to Know About Depression vs Dementia
Brian SheridanDec 12th, 2022
Many medical conditions present the same symptoms while still having significant differences. This is the case with depression and dementia, both of which can cause concern for families with an elderly loved one they suspect might be afflicted.
Of course, taking your older relative for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is the best way to be sure of what’s going on. However, I thought this article might help families understand the similarities and differences between the two conditions.
What are the main differences between depression and dementia?
Depression and dementia present so many overlapping symptoms that differentiating between the two can be difficult. Generally, the distinction can be made by understanding what is generally behind both issues:
- Depression is a mental health disorder that affects behavior, thinking, and disposition
- Dementia is a chronic, progressive disease caused by brain disease or injury that presents itself through impaired memory, personality change, and decreased reasoning
It’s important to note that the medical community regards depression as a mental health condition. In contrast, dementia is not, even though it affects mental well-being.
Delirium is another condition that is sometimes also confused with depression or dementia. Some symptoms are the same, but delirium is caused by dehydration, a medication reaction, or being put into new, unfamiliar surroundings or living conditions. Delirium is often reversible when treated early. However, dementia and many types of depression are not.
Dementia symptoms to watch for in older people
Dementia is an umbrella term for many cognitive impairment conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. This disease cannot be cured, but proper treatment by doctors or healthcare professionals in a Memory Care community can slow the symptoms down.
Here are some of the most common signs of dementia in older people:
- Impaired memory that goes beyond occasional forgetfulness
- Increased confusion which may include being disoriented, unsure of the time of day, being unable to find items, or having trouble recognizing family members and close friends
- Forgetting words, mixing up word usage, trailing off without completing a sentence, or other problems with verbal communication
- Failing to maintain one’s hygiene or nutrition
- Improperly taking medications or forgetting if they took them
- Personality changes, severe mood swings, or personality traits that are contrary to their normal behavior
What are the signs of depression in seniors?
Although it’s perfectly normal to seem down at times, depression and other forms of mental illness are not part of the typical aging process. An older person who’s constantly in a state of sadness or demonstrates the following symptoms for longer than two weeks should be seen by a medical professional:
- Increased anxiety over family, friends, money, or other issues
- A lack of focus or seeming confused, indecisive, or indifferent
- Loss of interest in activities they usually love, such as hobbies, watching sports, walking, or playing a musical instrument
- A lack of energy and a desire to sit or lie in bed for lengthy periods
- No concern for living conditions, hygiene, or proper nutrition
- Expressions that life is pointless and not worth living
- Bouts of insomnia, sleeping too much, or other sudden changes in sleeping patterns
- Excessive crying, unresolved regret, or dwelling on unhappy memories that may have happened decades before
When depression may actually be dementia
Depression and dementia share many similar symptoms. However, severe memory loss is unique to dementia. For example, dementia patients struggle to recall names, facts, or recent conversations and sometimes can’t correctly determine time and place. People with depression usually have no trouble with memory.
However, many people with dementia realize what’s happening to them during moments of clarity. This awareness of their condition can lead to depression. This is why cognitive, mental, and emotional challenges need to be handled with the patience, empathy, and professional care offered in Memory Care communities.
How Memory Care helps with dementia and depression
Memory Care communities are the optimal place for people with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to receive the specialized care they need to thrive.
The specially-trained Memory Care staff creates a comfortable, safe environment for residents with social activities and therapies designed to help slow down the progression of the disease. The team also monitors for changes to your loved one’s well-being, including signs of depression, and keeps you apprised of the situation so you can collaborate on a treatment plan.
Memory Care communities bring families peace of mind that their loved one is getting the best care possible in a place designed just for them.
No-cost help finding quality Memory Care Communities in Northeast Florida
Memory Care communities are the perfect solution where dementia care needs exceed what families can provide. However, finding a quality Memory Care community can be overwhelming, especially if you’re doing it alone or for the first time.
That’s why families looking for Memory Care in Northeast Florida call Brian Sheridan of Assisted Living Locators. Brian and his team will take the time to get to know your elderly loved one’s needs, wants, and requirements and present a list of best-fit options that suit their lifestyle. With Brian on your side, you’ll have all the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.