Older man with black hat and blue shirt smiling

Depression, while most often talked about by younger generations, such as millennials (born from 1981 to 1996) and Gen Z (born from 1997 to 2012), can affect anyone at any age. And though it may be difficult to spot, it is crucial to look out for in the elderly, especially if they live alone.

How Does Depression Affect Older Adults?

According to WebMD, 6 million Americans over 65 suffer from depression, but only about 10% of those are able to receive treatment. The reasons for this may vary. For some, it may be that help is not available in their area. For others, it may be due to the stigma around mental illness that was more common in previous generations.

Thankfully, most younger generations have no problem admitting they have depression or any other mental illness, but that hasn’t been the case for very long. Many older generations saw mental illness as a weakness, making the topic a difficult one to bring up and discuss. That being the case, many older individuals may still feel the weight of that stigma, so it’s important to reach out and let them know it’s okay to ask for help.

Physical Illness and Depression

As we age, our bodies start to decline. Physical illnesses and aches and pains sadly become a part of life. Still, their commonness doesn’t make them easier to bare. The CDC reports “that about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.”


While most older individuals are not depressed, according to the CDC, the increased chance of disease and injury does put them at a higher risk. The CDC stated that “depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited.”

Signs of Depression to Look Out for In Older Adults

If you have a loved one who is older, or is at a higher risk for depression in general, here are a few signs to look out for. This list should not be used to diagnose someone. If you think you or your loved one may have depression, seek medical help immediately.

  • Feeling empty
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling guilt or shame for no reason
  • Losing interest in activities (without new activities to take their place)
  • Very little energy that isn’t due to an illness
  • Mental fatigue
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Talking or thinking about taking one’s own life

These signs can be challenging to look out for in the elderly because their bodies are changing, and different medications may affect things like eating and sleeping.

Because of this, it is not uncommon for depression to go undiagnosed. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or your loved one if you think depression may be to blame for these symptoms. Seeking a second opinion, while inconvenient, can be a great way to put your mind at ease one way or another.

How Beacon’s Group Homes Can Help Lower the Risk of Depression

While group homes are not most people’s first choice, medical professionals agree that group homes can be highly beneficial to those who can no longer leave the house on their own. The CDC confirms this by saying, “Some estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospitalized patients.

That’s a significant jump for those who need more care than those who don’t. Beacon is well equipped to offer that care and provide the community we all need to survive.

Other Ways Beacon Can Help Those Dealing With Depression

Everyone here at Beacon understands the pain points that often come with our residents, such as illness, mental illness, loneliness, and other issues that come with aging. One of our home managers, Jamara White, said her older residents “have lived a full life, but they still need to know they haven’t been forgotten about.” She understands how important it is to treat her residents like family and to create a strong community around them.

Everyone on staff has been trained in gentle teaching (a model of care that relies on gentleness rather than authority) and is always available to provide a listening ear.

Beacon also has professional counselors on staff who specialize in treatment methods for depression in the elderly. If the need arises, we are also equipped to handle medication management for anyone who may require it. However, our goal, first and foremost, is to advocate for the wishes of our residents.

What Living in a Beacon – Hometown Home Looks Like

Beacon homes (for all residents, including those in adult foster care) function much like a family home, with private or semi-private, fully furnished bedrooms, home-cooked meals, and 24-hour care. We understand the impact living situations have on a person’s mental health. We strive for this home-like setting to lower the risk of depression and help foster relationships between the residents and the staff.

Our staff do their best or create personal relationships with those they care for while providing the best medical care. Each home receives regular visits from a registered nurse, and Beacon also provides behavioral management and dementia care. You never have to worry about your loved one’s needs being met.

Some perks of living in one of our hometown Senior Living homes in Minnesota:  

  • A great room with a fireplace, den, and sunroom for a homely atmosphere
  • A whirlpool tub to ease any aches and pains
  • Laundry & housekeeping are taken care of by the staff. (Because your loved one has spent enough time doing those things and deserves a break.)
  • Daily activities as well as monthly outings
  • Being located near walking paths & parks. (We are never too old to appreciate nature.)
  • Three home-cooked meals and snacks daily
  • Resident living areas on one level & handicap accessible
  • All-inclusive daily rates

Check out our Senior Living Services page for a complete list of the services (and locations) we provide for those in our group homes.

Our Parting Words to Our Readers

Deciding to place your loved one in a group home shouldn’t be taken lightly. When choosing a home, you deserve peace of mind, and your loved one deserves a place to stay that is welcoming and makes them feel comfortable.

We are always available to answer questions or discuss options for you and your loved one. We want to do everything we can to ensure we are the right fit before moving forward.

To learn more about Beacon Specialized Living and our services, please contact Alexander Furman, executive director of marketing, at alexander.furman@beaconspecialized.org.

Written by Mental Health writer Kaitlyn Pfiester

Reviewed and published by Alexander Furman.

Kaitlyn Pfiester

Kaitlyn specializes in B2B and B2C content creation focused on mental health, therapy, and the further destigmatization of mental illness. She can be found living with her husband in Yuma, AZ with their two guinea pigs, Hyde and Kelso.







  • As a teen, Kaitlyn Pfiester began her writing journey in the fiction world, immersing herself in J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Once adulthood hit, the world of mental health opened her eyes to a hurting world. Over time, (and months of continuing therapy) her passion shifted from baking Lembas bread and speaking elvish, to learning more about trauma and how it affects everyday life. Now she can be found living with her husband in Yuma AZ with their two guinea pigs, Hyde and Kelso.