When we think of retirement, we generally imagine fishing on a quiet lake, volunteering or perhaps just sitting on the porch and watching the grandkids build forts out between those two oak trees where their parents built when they were kids. Rarely do we see blue moods, days that we don’t want to get out of bed and a dreadful feeling every time the phone rings. Sadly, for too many elderly Americans, the quality of life they dreamed of and the reality now that it’s here are not remotely close. Depression in elderly Americans is on the rise and because the baby boom population is either preparing for or already in retirement, finding new strategies for identifying depression is becoming difficult for those in the health care sector.
By the Numbers: Depression in Elderly
According to a recent study from the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare, along with the National Institutes of Health, nearly one in four older Americans with depression received no antidepressant drug therapy and 22 percent received neither psychotherapy nor an antidepressant. Patients in long-term care facilities and those aged 65 to 74 were less likely to receive treatment. This is indicative of a significant number of elderly Medicaid enrollees with a primary diagnosis of depression not receiving proper treatment.
New Hampshire Elderly
In another report from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, we see an even closer look at this trend. Of those classified as elderly, 49 percent show evidence of depression, yet only 20 percent have been diagnosed with depression. Most also have other physical ailments or diseases that require medical attention, which means depression can be overlooked or dismissed as part of the primary illness.
This highlights the importance of seeking help as soon as possible. New Hampshire’s 2012-2015 State Plan on Aging has four objectives to help deal with depression in the elderly. First, it’s working to enhance access to the many services available to New Hampshire’s elderly population. It’s also working to create new standards for counseling for those affected as well as training for health care professionals so that they can better identify the warning signs. Finally, it’s seeking to enhance longer term solutions for Medicaid recipients.
While depression can strike anyone and at any time, seniors who are depressed are more likely to die or have serious complications after a major medical event than those who are not depressed. And, too, despite the uptick, seniors are still less likely to be depressed than younger people; however, the size of the baby boom population will demand new strategies to care for them.
There are no easy answers or even across the board solutions. Depression demands more than that. What we can do is monitor our loved ones, especially if they’ve recently lost someone they love or if they begin new medications, which can have depressing side effects. Ensure that proper estate planning is on file, including a healthcare proxy so that someone else will be able to step in and meet with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
If you’d like to learn more about Medicaid or estate planning , we invite you to contact our offices today. Together, we can find the best solution for your loved ones and your family as whole.