Antidepressant Use Among Senior Citizens Has More Than Doubled

More elderly people are on antidepressants but depression rates haven't changed much. Plus, how to keep tabs on your aging parent's medications.

Old man taking pills

More elderly people are on antidepressants than ever before, even though depression rates have stayed about the same, according to a new report.

A new British study found that use of antidepressants more than doubled over a 20-year period, increasing from 4 percent to nearly 11 percent between 1991 and 2011, the Daily Mail reports.

During that same time frame, depression rates for those over age 65 fell from 7.9 percent to 6.8 percent.

“You would hope that with a dramatic increase in the prescription of antidepressants, the rate of people suffering from depression would decrease,” one of the study authors, Tony Arthur, says in the article. “But we found little change. This could be due to improved recognition and treatment of depression, overprescribing, or use of antidepressants for other conditions.”

The study, which involved interviews with more than 7,000 seniors, ultimately noted that, “Over two decades, substantial increases in access to antidepressant medication do not appear to be associated with change in prevalence of late life depression,” Physician’s Weekly reports.

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So what can adults in the “sandwich generation” do to ensure their aging parents are getting the help they need and are on the right medications? Consider these tips.

Tips for helping with your aging parent’s medications

  • Learn the meds. Talk to your parent about which medications they take and the dosing instructions, and maintain a list with all the important details, BeMedWise.org recommends.
  • Attend doctor’s appointments with your parent if possible. This is an ideal opportunity to ask any questions of your parent’s medical providers, including any concerns about currently prescribed medications, BeMedWise notes. “Be sure to take notes that you can review later,” the site adds.
  • Get organized. Organizing and sorting medications can be a challenge, but it’s an important step that can help prevent mistakes. The AARP offers a variety of tips here.

Getting help for depression

Studies have found that older adults have a more difficult time beating depression, the AARP reports. With that in mind, adults caring for their aging parents should know that help is available.

After all, depression is not a “normal part of aging,” the National Institute on Aging points out. Find symptoms, types of depression and treatment tips here.

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