Don’t Normalize Depression

Angie SzumlinskiNews

A great article in MedPage Today talks about senior depression and how the world perceives it as a “normal part of aging.” It isn’t. Depression is real, whether you are 20, 30, or 90, if you suffer with depression, appropriate care and management is critical to quality of life. Sure, everyone has a “blue day” and some days are worse than others, however, when sadness impacts daily functioning, it is a problem. 

I remember my Grams, simply mentioning depression or mental health was taboo. “I’m not crazy” she would say and surely, she was saner than I! That BEING said, if we allow our seniors to go undiagnosed and untreated, it will likely have a negative impact on their quality of life. Treating depression in post-acute care is a definite balancing act. Documentation needs to be comprehensive and interdisciplinary. What are you doing and why? If medications are recommended, there needs to be a risk/benefit analysis documented. Sure, it is a lot of work but well worth it if you can address a resident’s depression successfully. 

Sadly, research from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry found that up to 30% of nursing home residents experience minor or major depression, but approximately that same percentage (20% to 40%) of nursing facilities nationwide say providing basic behavioral health services is “difficult” or “very difficult.” Talk to your medical director, add this subject to your next QAPI meeting agenda, involve your pharmacy provider, talk to your community mental health organizations, and get referrals for bringing mental health services into your center, and of course, talk to your residents. Go to where you will find several resources to assist you! Stay well and stay informed!