Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:
Research shows that the rate of depression among elders in senior residences is 24% to 27%. It’s not that every fourth resident you greet in the hallway is depressed.
It’s that we should be more concerned about the people who aren’t in the hallway to greet.
“Depressive symptoms are expected to become a leading cause of the global burden of disease, second only to cardiovascular disease, by the year 2020,” according to Tracy Chippendale, PhD, OTR/L in her 2013 Clinical Gerontologist study.”
Depressed residents are less independent in their activities of daily living, have a decreased quality of life, and tend to use more medical services than peers who aren’t depressed.
Factors reducing depression
According to Chippendale, elders with more education, better self-rated health and more social support are less likely to be depressed. While we can’t necessarily change a person’s health or the level of education they’ve achieved, as senior care providers we can certainly offer opportunities for social support.
An important component of social support — beyond the number of connections in a person’s life — is how much the individual feels valued by others. For a retired elder who has completed raising her children and lost the value of a job and its contacts and income, mattering to others can come from family relationships, friendships, community service, and owning a pet, for example. Studies suggest that moving to a senior residence can reduce some of these opportunities to connect and to be of service.
Creating opportunities to ‘matter’
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