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Friday, July 1, 2016
Handling Depression/Anxiety in 96 Year Old
My grandmother is 96, and a few months ago started having `sick spells` (her term). She has no physical symptoms like upset stomach, vomiting, chest pains. She feels weak and has a heaviness in her chest area, but not pain. We've taken her to doctors and they found that she is healthy, other than her lose of appetite caused by the spells. She has a sharp mind, still does her own financial affairs. She moved in with my mother three years ago and recently decided to rent her home. That's then the problems started so we thought it was just anxiety. Now she no longer plays her piano or organ, doesn't go to the senior center (used to go 3x a week). Today she said she thinks her time has now come to an end. Its almost as if this recently vibrant, healthy 96 year old has suddenly given up on life. She`s starting to want to take rides to all the schools where she used to work, places she used to live, etc. What does the family do for a woman who is otherwise healthy?
You are right that age does not disqualify a person from either developing depression or responding to treatment. Now that you have done a good initial physical evaluation, I suggest you see if she can be evaluated by a mental health specialist, a geriatric psychiatrist if one is available, for a depression assessment and recommendations for treatment.
Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati