Old and Sad

When we picture the aged we more often than not envision a calm old lady in the village playing with
grandchildren and telling stories; an old man calmly sharing wisdom to those around. However, the
reality is that a huge number of the aged population do not fit this picture. According to WHO, over 20%
of 60 year olds and above are living with a mental or neurological disorder. The most common mental
disorder being depression which affects approximately 7% of these age group worldwide.
There are several factors in aging that are major predisposing factors to the development of depression.
Low concentration of folate in the blood and nervous system has been found to impact the mental
wellbeing of older adults contributing to development of dementia, depression and mental impairment.
The various health difficulties that come about with aging result in intense sense of loss, compounding
this with a growing dwindling social network due to bereavement and changes that come about with
retirement and the empty nest, reduce mobility, anxieties over death, how ones family will remain after
their passing as well as the reduced sense of purpose and freedom earlier enjoyed in youth can result in
feelings of loneliness, hopelessness and helplessness.
Most especially when ones children are not fairing as well as the person anticipated in life the older
adult is likely to suffer great grief and anguish. On the other hand with modernization it is easy to be
otherwise preoccupied by the fast paced life and inevitably leave the older adult lonely and isolated in
the village. Regardless of money and supplies being sent to them, loneliness has been found to be a
major causal factor for depression in modern times.
Recent research development have found that late life depression has its onset in midlife. Therefore
even as we look into the management of geriatric depression, it is important to mitigate the rise of this
reality through effective and rigorous interventions on primary and secondary prevention methods
among the age group of 30-40. This way at least the image of a charming little old lady and the wise old
man will become more reality than that of the old and sad.

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