Depressive symptoms are common among older adults and can have a major effect on their quality of life. It has been estimated that between 12 percent and 16 percent of older adults living in long term care facilities have major depression, 50 percent may have a minor depressive disorder, and up to 70 percent may at one time experience depressed, sad, or blue mood.
All health care workers in the long term care setting should maintain a high index of suspicion for the presence of depression in their patients. Accurate diagnosis of depression is important because many of the symptoms of depression may also be found in other conditions. Once diagnosed, depression usually responds to treatment with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two.