What are the Harmful Effects of Depression on the Elderly?

Depression in the elderly is a common topic. Statistics show that around 7% of people over the age of 60 worldwide experience depression. Stress has a significant impact on the health and well-being of elderly people. As people age, they may experience a range of life changes that can be stressful, such as retirement, poor health, loss of friends or loved ones, and changes in the living environment.

Why May Some Elderly People Exhibit Negative Behaviours?

According to Google Trends, the topic “Why do old people get mean” has a consistent level of search interest over time, indicating that it is a topic of ongoing interest and concern for many people.

You might wonder if there is an exact answer to the question of “Why do old people get mean”. The truth is that each case is different depending on the elderly needs, personalities, life experiences, and health conditions. However, research suggests that a combination of factors, like physical and mental health issues, social isolation, and loss of independence, may cause negative behaviours in elderly people.

Studies show that the prevalence of depression in the elderly population varies, and depression in old age can cause various challenges and effects. Let’s face it, dealing with ageing parents’ depression is not the easiest task especially when they experience a range of emotional symptoms, including persistent sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness. Besides, depression in the elderly can bring even more challenges to older people, including:

  1. Poor Sleep

Studies show that up to 50% of older adults with depression experience sleep disorders, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or waking up too early in the morning. Some elderly may also experience nightmares or disturbing dreams. Proper care, therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, can help improve their mood and sleep.

  1. Increased Pain

Depression can cause physical symptoms such as pain or discomfort, which can make it difficult to get comfortable enough during the day or at night. One of the reasons is that stress causes changes in the way the brain processes pain signals, making them feel more intense. It can also cause physical symptoms such as muscle tension, fatigue, and decreased mobility, which can lead to pain.

  1. Poor Life Quality

Stress and depression can bring cognitive decline and memory problems, which can make it harder for older adults to engage in activities they enjoy. It can impact their life quality, affecting their physical health, social relationships, and emotional well-being.

  1. Social Isolation

Social isolation is a common issue among the elderly population, and thousands of people, over the age of 75, face it. With distress, people face feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, and a lack of motivation, which makes it harder for them to engage in social activities and connect with others. Social isolation coming from depression can have negative impacts on the health and well-being of older adults. To avoid it, they need to get the best support and resources to stay connected with their communities and maintain their social relationships.

  1. Increased risks of Mobility and Falls

 While stress and depression are primarily associated with feelings of sadness and hopelessness, it affects a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviours. People with depression may have less energy or motivation to engage in physical activity, which can lead to decreased muscle strength, balance, and coordination. It can slow down reaction time and coordination, which can increase the risk of falls.

  1. Changes in Appetite

Changes in appetite are common symptoms that older people might face. Some of them may experience an increase in appetite and weight gain, while others may have a decrease in appetite and weight loss. A lack of proper nutrition can lead to a weakened immune system and other health issues. 


Depression can have a range of harmful effects on the elderly, impacting physical and mental health. Healthcare professionals and private homecare services must be aware of the potential effects and take steps to identify and treat depression.
At River Garden Home Help Services, we approach elderly people with empathy and understanding and work with family members to address underlying issues and provide support and assistance to improve their well-being.