Introducing Dr Alex Bailey, an old age psychiatrist working in Westminster. In this podcast Age Space founder Annabel James, discusses depression and delirium, both of which are unfortunately common among the elderly, and often confused with dementia. Dr Alex talks about some of the misconceptions, how we can spot these conditions, and what we can do to help.
Dr Alex explains depression in older people
As Dr Alex explains, depression can be hard to spot and diagnose in older people because of a couple reasons. For one it tends to present slightly differently to that in younger people. It can be confused for dementia as it sometimes appears with memory problems, which might actually be due to the person being overwhelmed by the depression and being unable to concentrate on memory. Depression can also present with physical symptoms, like bowel problems or unexplained pains. Older people with depression are also more unlikely to visit a GP with symptoms as they can feel ashamed or embarrassed. In the podcast, Dr Bailey goes over some depression symptoms to look out for in an elderly relative.
Dealing with depression
Fortunately, older people tend to respond better to treatment than younger people, especially when it comes to talking therapies. Another way to help someone with dementia is to make sure their environmental and social factors are set up to improve their mental health – e.g. is the person getting out and about? Dr Alex agrees that when it comes to older people and treating depression, “there isn’t a one size fits all”, and treatments must take into account someone’s mobility and frailty.
Dr Bailey makes the point that bereavement and grief are risk factors for depression, but they are not the same thing. People deal with bereavement very differently to one another, and feeling sad is obviously very natural, however, it is still important just to keep a close eye on someone dealing with the loss of a loved, and to talk to them regularly about how they are feeling. Another really simple idea is to help someone to get out of the house and get moving frequently, or even just to walk around the house a bit.
Dr Alex discusses delirium in older people
Delirium is often confused with dementia as an acute state of confusion. It can be cause by something small like a UTI, but can really affect an older person’s behaviour. Not a lot of people know about delirium, which Age Space hopes to change with our campaign – #thinkDelirium.
Listen to Dr Alex discuss delirium on the podcast and visit our page on delirium or download our guide to delirium, to find out more about what it is, how to spot it and what you can do to help someone with delirium. You should also read James’ account of when his mother got diagnosed with delirium.
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