Aging and Depression 

Published 10:37 pm Monday, April 22, 2019

There’s help in Polk County for Seniors 


Old age is often portrayed as a time of reflection and enjoyment, but little is discussed about the increased risk of depression. With the help of several agencies in Polk County, NC seniors now have resources to help them identify and address depression symptoms. 

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As part of Polk County Senior Services new initiative focused on Active Aging, Meals on Wheels’ participants have access to a reliable tool — PHQ-4 — to screen for depression. Not only will clients receive proper screening, they will also be connected to resources for proper diagnosis and treatment. Polk County Senior Services is working with local organizations such as Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly (PF3) and Senior Life Solutions at St. Luke’s Hospital to ensure clients receive the necessary follow-up after their screenings. 


As we age, we go through many changes — the loss of a spouse, financial hardships, medical conditions, stressful life events, and/or a reduction in independence. It’s normal to feel troubled and apprehensive during these life changes, and most people are able to readjust and feel normal again. Others find themselves unable to execute their typical daily routines but find success in navigating these changes with support groups and treatment. Unfortunately, many individuals fail to recognize these symptoms of depression or are unable to take the necessary steps to receive the help they need. 


Without proper screening, depression can go undiagnosed for years, thus preventing those affected from receiving proper treatment. In the absence of proper treatment, geriatric depression can reduce one’s quality of life and increase the risk of suicide. 


Depression is a growing health concern for seniors, but assistance is available and many older adults experience notable improvements with treatment. Symptoms of depression include: sadness, feelings of worthlessness, irritability, fatigue, crying spells, apathy, restlessness, lack of concentration, withdrawal, sleep problems, changes in appetite, thoughts of suicide, or physical aches and pain. 


If you suspect you or a loved-one has depression, please connect them with a doctor to get proper diagnosis and treatment. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. 


The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can provide free and confidential support for people in distress by calling 1-800-273-8255. RHA Mobile Crisis Line is also available 24/7/365 to safely stabilize a person at home, work, school, or wherever in the community the crisis occurs and can be reached at 1-888-573-1006. 


Also, Polk County’s Senior Services is here to help. To know more, please call 828-894-0001 x130. 


– Submitted by Haley Suskauer