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Assessing and managing depression in older people

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THIS ARTICLE WILL TELL YOU ABOUT

  • The prevalence and presentation of depression in older people
  • How to identify mental health needs in physically ill patients
  • Managing depression for inpatients on general wards

 

YOU WOULD BE LIKELY TO REFERENCE THIS ARTICLE IF YOU WERE RESEARCHING

The mental health needs of patients with physical illness, how patients should be screened for depression and how symptoms should be managed.  It also explains the difference between delirium, depression and dementia.

 

IN WHAT SITUATIONS WILL THIS ARTICLE BE USEFUL FOR ME?

This article is useful for nurses working on general wards with older people. It explains the risk factors for depression in this age group and introduces you to simple tools that can be used as part of a holistic patient assessment. It explores the links between depression and physical illness and will help you to understand the difference between dementia, depression and delirium.

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOUR MENTOR/TUTOR

  • What should I do if I think one of my patients is depressed?
  • Look out for patients with a diagnosis of depression, delirium or dementia. Ask you mentor to help you identity their symptoms by looking at their medical notes and talking to the patient and their relatives.

 

STUDENT NT DECODER

The “3Ds” - This stands for delirium, depression and dementia. It is important that general nurses understand the signs and symptoms of these conditions as they can be easily consued in clinical practice.

Depression - This is a functional disorder where three core symptoms occur most days, most of the time, for at least two weeks:

  • Depressed mood,
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment,
  • Reduced energy, leading to fatigue and diminished activity.

Signs of depression that are more common in older people than others include: diminished self-care, irritability and psychomotor retardation.

Delirium - This has a rapid onset, short duration of about a week and is associated with changeable levels of consciousness and confusion with an impaired ability to think and concentrate. The term “acute confusional state” is often used to describe delirium when a systemic illness is the primary cause and it is important to identify and treat the underlying cause.

Dementia - This is an organic disorder or syndrome caused by changes to the physical structure of the brain. Age is the key known risk factor for dementia and the symptoms include: short-term memory recall and progressive loss of functional abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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