Is Dad Depressed or Showing Signs of Dementia?

This Father’s Day Families Will Realize Dad Needs Help But Don’t Know What’s Wrong

June 06, 2012 // // This Father’s Day, thousands of families will come home to find that Dad has lost his usual “spark.” He’s sad and sluggish. He’s not himself and he’s forgetting things. Is it depression or dementia? The two health issues are often confusing to diagnose and difficult to distinguish.

That’s why Senior Helpers, one of our nation’s largest in-home senior care companies, wants to raise awareness about the difference between depression and dementia and offer a solution for families.

“When people are depressed, they can have difficulty concentrating, which usually leads to forgetfulness. For this reason, many families may immediately think Dad has dementia,” says Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers. “Instead of jumping to conclusions, we suggest providing Dad with an in-home caregiver, even if it’s just for a few hours a day. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give him this Father’s Day because our caregivers are trained in dementia care – they can help families notice classic signs of dementia vs. depression. Caregivers also provide critical companionship at a time when Dad may feel lonelier than he’s letting on.”

The Difference Between Depression And Dementia

10 Warning Signs of Depression:

  1. Feelings of hopelessness, guilt
  2. Feeling worthless
  3. Irritability, restlessness
  4. No longer interested in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy
  5. Fatigue and decreased energy
  6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  7. Insomnia, waking early in the morning or excessive sleeping
  8. Overeating or loss of appetite
  9. Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
10. Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment

10 Warning Signs of Dementia:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Difficulty planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images
  6. Developing new problems with words while speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things – trouble re-tracing steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood and personality

“Elderly men can suffer from deep depression, dementia or a physical ailment but are often the last to ask for help,” says Ross. “Plus, they often delay treatment for depression because they think they have dementia. We want to raise awareness about these two diseases so families are prepared to address any concerns they notice this Father’s Day.”

Tell this story with a family who hired a caregiver to help their aging dad. Interview local depression/dementia experts who can help your audience decide if Dad needs help.

Fast Facts:

  • Late life depression affects about 65 million Americans age 65 and older, but only one in ten receives treatment. Factors that include the risk of elderly depression include living alone, unmarried or widowed, certain medications or chronic pain or illness.
  • People often delay depression treatment because they fear they have dementia.
  • Nearly 20 percent of adults, age 65 and older in America, have experienced depression at some point in their lives.
  • A recent study in the Journal of Neurology revealed that depression may increase the risk of dementia

Sources: CDC, Steinman 2007, Alzheimer’s Association, journal Neurology (2010)

About Senior Helpers

Senior Helpers connects professional caregivers with seniors who wish to live at home as
opposed to a nursing or assisted living facility. The company has 300 franchises in 39 states and one in Canada offering a wide range of personal and companion care services to assist seniors living independently with a strong focus on quality of life for the client and peace of mind for their families. Senior Helpers strives to be the leading companion and personal care provider that offers dependable, consistent and affordable home care.For more information, please visit


Stacey Hilton

Sue Yannello


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