For more information about the author, click to view their website: Healthcare Network
We all feel blue sometimes, and that’s
OK. But when sadness and other symptoms interfere with our daily living, it
might be something to address.
As we age, we may be at increased risk for depression, but this treatable medical condition is not necessarily a normal part of getting older.
Depression is not a character flaw. It is not a weakness. It is not your fault. It is an illness. While major life events such as bereavement can
trigger it, depression is different from the negative feelings from a difficult life event. Depression causes feelings that are intense, chronic and
out of proportion to circumstances. Depression can last for several weeks, months or years, often becoming a chronic illness like diabetes or
hypertension that requires treatment. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Undiagnosed depression can have a physical toll. The National Institutes of Health says that adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms
have a 64% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than those without depression. Some people might be prone to depression
due to their genetics, but there is no single cause of depression in older adults. The National Council on Aging lists these as some
additional risk factors:
Chronic conditions (about 80% of older adults have at least one
chronic health condition, per the CDC)
Decreased functional ability
Lack of physical activity
Symptoms of depression may differ across cultures, as well as by sex/gender. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic, women
are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. In men, depression often shows up as anger or irritability. Furthermore,
symptoms of depression are often different from those in younger people. Sadness is not always the main symptom. It can be a
feeling of numbness or lack of interest in activities,
which is often attributed to age.
Mental health professionals and healthcare providers may
sometimes mistake symptoms as reactions to illness or life changes.
There are several reasons why depression may be missed. Older adults may be isolated, with few around to notice their symptoms
or distress. Also, many do not realize that physical pain can sometimes indicate depression. In addition, we may feel stigma admitting
to mental health problems and may be reluctant to talk about feelings and ask for help. Certain medications and medical illnesses
can bring on depression or have similar symptoms.
As a result, it is important to understand the signs, symptoms and consequences of depression. According to the CDC, here are
some of the potential symptoms of depression:
of hopelessness and/or pessimism
of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
and decreased energy
concentrating, remembering details and making
early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
or appetite loss
of suicide, suicide attempts
aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get
better, even with treatment.
of motivation and energy
movement and speech
personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene).
Throughout our lives, we are told that lifestyle changes can
improve health and wellness, including mental health. Meditation, breathing
exercises and exercise can help people of any age.
According to the National Institute on Aging, we can also lower
the risk of depression by:
seven to nine hours of sleep every night
isolation and staying connected with friends and family
activities that make them happy
family, friends or a healthcare provider if they
are developing depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat before it
Health professionals can rule out any underlying medical
conditions that could be causing symptoms of depression such as dementia,
Parkinson’s disease, heart disease or medication interactions. A primary care
doctor can also screen for signs of depression and recommend treatment that
might include medication, therapy or a combination
Many people with mild to moderate depression respond to
psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches new ways of
thinking and behavior, and changing habits that might contribute to depression.
Finding the right medication to treat depression is similar
to treating some other illnesses; it might take time to find the right
medicine, particularly with age-related changes to metabolism and drug
The most important thing to know if you feel you or someone
you know may be suffering from depression is you are not alone. Depression can
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Whitt, Ph.D. is Director of Behavioral Health at Healthcare Network, which
offers behavioral health services as a routine part of comprehensive care and
traditional counseling services. Healthcare Network provides quality primary
care services for children and adults in locations throughout Collier County. To learn more or make an appointment, please
239.658.3000 or visit HealthcareSWFL.org.
One of the first questions many clients ask is whether they need a trust. Its a great question, but it leads to another: What do you want your plan to accomplish? Lets begin with a brief discussion of what trusts are and how they work. Then well explore their benefits, which should give you a better idea of whether a trust is right for you and your family.What is a Revocable Living Trust?There are many different types of trusts and they can accomplish a wide range of goals. However, when most people think about trusts, the one they have in mind is a Revocable Living Trust.A Revocable Living Trust is a legal document that allows the grantor (the person who creates the trust) to take personal assets and transfer them to the ownership of the trust. While the trust technically owns the assets, the grantor can continue to use them as he or she normally would.When a Revocable Living Trust is established, the grantor names a trustee to manage the assets in the trust during the grantors lifetime. Most grantors name themselves as trustee, giving them complete control over the trusts assets. Typically, a successor trustee is also named to take over management of the trust and distribute trust assets after the grantor passes away.What are the benefits of a Revocable Living Trust?One of the primary benefits of a Revocable Living Trust is that it enables assets held in the trust to avoid probate after the grantors death. This allows trust assets to be distributed to heirs quickly. The costs associated with probating the estate are also avoided. In addition, a Revocable Living Trust protects the privacy of the grantor (and beneficiaries) because the trusts provisions are confidential. A Last Will and Testament, on the other hand, is a matter of public record. Anyone can access information about the decedents assets, creditors, debts, and more.Another benefit of Revocable Living Trusts is they not only allow the grantor to control trust assets during life but also after he or she passes away. The grantor can stipulate when, how, and under what circumstances the successor trustee is authorized to distribute trust assets to beneficiaries. This is particularly important if the beneficiaries are not yet mature enough to manage an inheritance on their own, or in situations involving blended families. For example, the grantor could stipulate that children from a first marriage receive assets from the trust, not just the children from a more recent marriage.Revocable Living Trusts can also be used to protect the grantor and the grantors family from a stressful and expensive guardianship proceeding if the grantor becomes incapacitated.As we mentioned earlier, there are many different types of trusts. If one of your primary goals is to protect assets from long-term care costs, creditors, lawsuits, and other threats, an Irrevocable Trust or an Asset Protection Trust may be a much better option then a Revocable Living Trust. If you have a loved one with special needs, a Special Needs Trust can allow you to create a fund for goods and services not provided by Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income while protecting eligibility for these vital programs. A Charitable Trust allows the grantor to set aside money for both a charity and beneficiaries, realize certain tax advantages, and generate an income stream.These are but a few examples of various trusts and what they can accomplish. If youre still not sure whether you need a trust, we welcome the opportunity to explain your options in detail and, if appropriate in your particular circumstances, design and implement the trust thats right for you and your family.
Youve taken the time to plan for the financial well-being of your loved ones and yourself. Youve created a customized estate plan to address your goals and concerns. Your plan includes one of the most powerful estate planning tools out there, the Revocable Living Trust, which allows your heirs to avoid probate upon your death and provide for management of your assets without interference from the court should you become disabled or otherwise incapacitated.All is well and goodunless you have not taken the steps necessary to fund your trust. Without proper funding, your trust is worth no more than the paper it is written on.Its hard to believe, but many families take the time to create a comprehensive estate plan, together with a Revocable Living Trust, then fail to properly fund the trust. And even though a Will may provide that all assets pour over into your trust for further disposition, this takes place only after said assets pass through probate, thereby negating one of the primary benefits of creating the trust in the first place.Another important factor to consider is that assets such as life insurance, individual retirement accounts and pension plans pass to designated beneficiaries. If the trust is not named as the beneficiary of such assets, they will not be held (and protected) by the trust. Likewise, assets held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship will go to the surviving joint tenant, not the trust. In addition, assets held in your name alone will not go to the trust until probate has been completed, which can take several months, a year, and sometimes even longer.Given all of this, it is extremely important for you to review all of your assets to determine which titles should be changed to your trust. Assets you will want to review, and possibly title to your trust, include all of the following:Bank accountsCertificates of depositInvestment accountsRetirement accountsStocks and bonds held in certificate formReal propertyTangible personal property such as art, rugs, jewelry, vehicles, etc.Promissory notesClosely-held business interestsWe can counsel you on the best strategies to employ so that your assets are correctly titled and your trust properly funded to achieve your goals and ensure your wishes are carried out.
In America today, an estimated 40 million individuals selflessly dedicate their time to providing unpaid care for a loved one. This statistic, reported by the National Alliance for Caregivers and AARP, underscores the enormous commitment caregivers make on a day-to-day basis. Often, these devoted individuals spend over 44 hours per week caring for a spouse or partner, a commitment that can take a significant toll on their own wellbeing.This total immersion in caregiving responsibilities often leads to a state known as caregiver burnout, a condition defined by physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion is often accompanied by a drastic shift in attitude, transforming from a positive, caring demeanor to a negative and indifferent one. Many caregivers become so engrossed in their roles that they feel guilty for spending time addressing their own needs, instead of focusing solely on their elderly or ill loved ones.Recognizing Caregiver Burnout: The Role of an Elder Law AttorneyAs elder law attorneys, we are intimately familiar with the complexities and challenges caregivers face. We believe its crucial for caregivers to recognize the warning signs of burnout, in order to maintain their own health and continue to provide quality care to their loved ones.Ask yourself the following questions:Are you exhausted even after a full nights sleep? Do you seem to catch an unusually large number of colds? Do you feel like your whole life revolves around caregiving but you dont get any satisfaction from it? Are you always tense or feel like youve lost the ability to simply relax? Are you increasingly impatient with the person in your care? Do you often feel helpless, sometimes even hopeless? If youve found yourself answering yes to some or all of these questions, and these feelings have developed since you took on your caregiving role, its possible you are experiencing caregiver burnout.Prioritizing Self-Care: The First Step towards RecoveryRecognizing the signs of burnout is the first step. The next step is taking action to care for yourself. At Safe Harbor Law Firm, our team of experienced elder law attorneys is ready to provide empathetic, professional support during this challenging time.Our approach is both professional and personable, ensuring that we fully understand your unique situation and can provide the most effective guidance. We value your dedication to caregiving and want to ensure you have the necessary resources to care for both your loved one and yourself.Reach Out Today: Let Us Help You Navigate Caregiver BurnoutDont let caregiver burnout control your life. Reach out to us today and lets start the journey towards better self-care together. With our expertise and your dedication, we can navigate through this challenging time and find a path that ensures both you and your loved one receive the care you need.
As you age, your healthcare needs evolve and so should your care team. At Healthcare Network, we make your needs the focus. Our highly trained primary care providers offer patient-centered, coordinated healthcareto support prevention, treatment and optimal well-being. With locations throughout Collier County, you can expect to receive high-quality, personalized care, regardless of your income, insurance, or job status.