Seniors with depression



Serving the elderly and chronically ill

Looking for a miracle

Seniors with depression

Providing some needed magic

Henry wasn’t sad, he had just lost interest in woodworking, church, even visits from his grandchildren.

Formerly the life of family gatherings, he became apathetic and withdrawn. His memory seemed to be slipping, or maybe he simply no longer cared. Once fastidious about his diet and dress, he no longer took care of himself.

Depression can look a lot different in the elderly, says William McDonald, who directs geriatric psychiatry at Emory. Little wonder that patients, family members, even clinicians often mistake late-life depression for symptoms of other diseases. Some mistakenly see it as a natural part of aging. Not so, says McDonald. Depression is treatable in the elderly, even in those with other diseases (30% of Alzheimer’s patients also have depression, as do 40% of Parkinson’s patients). That’s why for more than 10 years, Emory’s Fuqua Center for Late-Life Depression has worked to help older Georgians with depression get help that can improve their quality of life, independence, and even cognitive abilities.

Fuqua’s geriatric clinicians treat patients at their Wesley Woods offices, through telemedicine, and in 21 senior residential facilities. But the most powerful use of Fuqua expertise, says nurse practitioner Eve Byrd, is to support individuals and organizations on the front line of elder care. Each year, the center provides training in depression screening to more than 2,000 people, coordinates community resources across Georgia and four surrounding states, and provides continuing education to the primary care physicians who care for the great majority of the elderly.

It works. After attending one of the 100 educational programs Fuqua provided last year, Henry’s minister recognized the signs of late-life depression in his old friend and got him connected to local mental health services for treatment. No one at Fuqua ever met Henry, but they changed his life nonetheless. The work they do gave back the old Henry to his family and community.


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