VR Trips Help Treat Depression in the Elderly
(Free Think) – Depression in the elderly is a growing problem. In the United States, about six million people over the age of 65 experience late life depression and about one-third of seniors feel lonely.
Viva Vita, founded by Carleigh Berryman, is taking a novel approach to addressing both loneliness and depression in the elderly population. The organization provides virtual reality experiences for seniors to help them break through personal limitations, connect socially, and find enjoyment exploring new settings.
About 13% of seniors who require home healthcare suffer from depression, but it’s not a normal part of aging. The senior population is considered to be at high-risk for depression for two primary reasons.
First, individuals with other health problems are at increased risk of developing depression. About 80% of older adults have one chronic health condition, and at least 50% suffer from two or more.
The second reason seniors are at an increased risk is that depression in the elderly is often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Symptoms of depression tend to be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses or a natural reaction to life changes.
The elderly are also less likely to report feeling sad, experiencing other symptoms of depression more strongly, such as anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure) and somatic symptoms like pain, fatigue, or insomnia. As a result, both patients and their doctors overlook depression.
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