Are the Elderly at Risk for Suicide?

Reviewed Jan 7, 2021

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Summary

If an elderly person is depressed:

  • Make sure he gets treatment for depression.
  • Keep her involved in life.
  • Get him in a safe place.

Suicide rates are high for older adults. Why, when elderly people have weathered so many of life’s storms and for so long?

The answer may lie in the fact that many older adults have depression without knowing it. Some people think feeling low is just part of aging, and there is nothing to be done about it. That could not be farther from the truth. Older adults with depression may have a common but treatable chemical imbalance.

Sometimes depression is caused by a health condition, such as a thyroid disorder, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, tumor or some viral infections.

Common medications can also lead to depression. This includes drugs for blood pressure and arthritis, as well as hormones and steroids. The more meds a person takes, the more the chance for having depression. It’s important for the doctor to know all of the meds a person is taking. Alcohol and the use of painkillers can accelerate depression as well.

By the time a person reaches their 70s, they have most likely lost friends and loved ones. Children and grandchildren might live far away, or are too busy to visit or call. Widows and widowers often find themselves away from the families they once knew. By choice or by chance, they might spend most of their time alone, even on holidays.

Any sudden event, such as illness or the loss of a loved one, can upset the balance of an elderly person’s life. The person may start drinking, or drink more often. Or, that person might stay away from people because they are embarrassed or do not want to be reminded of what life once was. They may love to relive the past; but their friend may want to forget.

If I think my loved one is at risk, what can I do to help?

  1. Alert a doctor, social worker or family to the problem. A change in meds or environment may be all that is needed.
  2. Help your loved one keep continuity and predictability in life. Make sure they are eating well. If they live alone, see that they spend time with other people, many times a week. Help build a routine for your loved one that includes a social life, some exercise and plans for the future.
  3. Express your concern. Tell them they mean a lot to you. Let them know you are not the only person who loves them. They are important in the lives of many others. You want to help them believe they are wanted and still useful in the lives of others.
  4. Get them in a safe place. Make sure there are no guns or lethal drugs around. If your loved one is taking sedatives, make sure that it is still safe for them to do so. Don’t leave them alone. Keep a close watch on her moods and listen to what they say. Listen to your feelings: If you are worried, get help right away.

Resource

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

By Paula Hartman Cohen

Summary

If an elderly person is depressed:

  • Make sure he gets treatment for depression.
  • Keep her involved in life.
  • Get him in a safe place.

Suicide rates are high for older adults. Why, when elderly people have weathered so many of life’s storms and for so long?

The answer may lie in the fact that many older adults have depression without knowing it. Some people think feeling low is just part of aging, and there is nothing to be done about it. That could not be farther from the truth. Older adults with depression may have a common but treatable chemical imbalance.

Sometimes depression is caused by a health condition, such as a thyroid disorder, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, tumor or some viral infections.

Common medications can also lead to depression. This includes drugs for blood pressure and arthritis, as well as hormones and steroids. The more meds a person takes, the more the chance for having depression. It’s important for the doctor to know all of the meds a person is taking. Alcohol and the use of painkillers can accelerate depression as well.

By the time a person reaches their 70s, they have most likely lost friends and loved ones. Children and grandchildren might live far away, or are too busy to visit or call. Widows and widowers often find themselves away from the families they once knew. By choice or by chance, they might spend most of their time alone, even on holidays.

Any sudden event, such as illness or the loss of a loved one, can upset the balance of an elderly person’s life. The person may start drinking, or drink more often. Or, that person might stay away from people because they are embarrassed or do not want to be reminded of what life once was. They may love to relive the past; but their friend may want to forget.

If I think my loved one is at risk, what can I do to help?

  1. Alert a doctor, social worker or family to the problem. A change in meds or environment may be all that is needed.
  2. Help your loved one keep continuity and predictability in life. Make sure they are eating well. If they live alone, see that they spend time with other people, many times a week. Help build a routine for your loved one that includes a social life, some exercise and plans for the future.
  3. Express your concern. Tell them they mean a lot to you. Let them know you are not the only person who loves them. They are important in the lives of many others. You want to help them believe they are wanted and still useful in the lives of others.
  4. Get them in a safe place. Make sure there are no guns or lethal drugs around. If your loved one is taking sedatives, make sure that it is still safe for them to do so. Don’t leave them alone. Keep a close watch on her moods and listen to what they say. Listen to your feelings: If you are worried, get help right away.

Resource

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

By Paula Hartman Cohen

Summary

If an elderly person is depressed:

  • Make sure he gets treatment for depression.
  • Keep her involved in life.
  • Get him in a safe place.

Suicide rates are high for older adults. Why, when elderly people have weathered so many of life’s storms and for so long?

The answer may lie in the fact that many older adults have depression without knowing it. Some people think feeling low is just part of aging, and there is nothing to be done about it. That could not be farther from the truth. Older adults with depression may have a common but treatable chemical imbalance.

Sometimes depression is caused by a health condition, such as a thyroid disorder, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, tumor or some viral infections.

Common medications can also lead to depression. This includes drugs for blood pressure and arthritis, as well as hormones and steroids. The more meds a person takes, the more the chance for having depression. It’s important for the doctor to know all of the meds a person is taking. Alcohol and the use of painkillers can accelerate depression as well.

By the time a person reaches their 70s, they have most likely lost friends and loved ones. Children and grandchildren might live far away, or are too busy to visit or call. Widows and widowers often find themselves away from the families they once knew. By choice or by chance, they might spend most of their time alone, even on holidays.

Any sudden event, such as illness or the loss of a loved one, can upset the balance of an elderly person’s life. The person may start drinking, or drink more often. Or, that person might stay away from people because they are embarrassed or do not want to be reminded of what life once was. They may love to relive the past; but their friend may want to forget.

If I think my loved one is at risk, what can I do to help?

  1. Alert a doctor, social worker or family to the problem. A change in meds or environment may be all that is needed.
  2. Help your loved one keep continuity and predictability in life. Make sure they are eating well. If they live alone, see that they spend time with other people, many times a week. Help build a routine for your loved one that includes a social life, some exercise and plans for the future.
  3. Express your concern. Tell them they mean a lot to you. Let them know you are not the only person who loves them. They are important in the lives of many others. You want to help them believe they are wanted and still useful in the lives of others.
  4. Get them in a safe place. Make sure there are no guns or lethal drugs around. If your loved one is taking sedatives, make sure that it is still safe for them to do so. Don’t leave them alone. Keep a close watch on her moods and listen to what they say. Listen to your feelings: If you are worried, get help right away.

Resource

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

By Paula Hartman Cohen

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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