According to new studies older Americans have fewer depressive symptoms that elders of earlier generations. The exact opposite of younger people dealing with higher mental health issues more than ever.
Why Are Seniors Today Less Depressed?
A study was held by the University of Pittsburgh comparing 3,000 people in groups born over a multi-year period. These studies took people over the age of 65 and their aging and cognitive function into account. The earliest group was born between 1902 and 1911, the later being born between 1932 and 1941.
Each year they were asked about their mood, comparing people who reported five or more symptoms of depression. The lower the age of the group, the lower the depression symptoms were.
In the study, participants were given a standard depression screening test, the mCES-D, but it was modified to make it easier. The original version of the test asks people how often they had 20 symptoms, four of which are positive, over the past week. The data Sullivan used asked only whether people had felt a particular way during most of the previous week. Some questions addressed distraction, irritability, appetite, anxiety, restless sleep, loneliness and sadness.
- Compared to the 1902-1911 group, the 1912-1921 was 43% less likely to have five or more depressive symptoms
- The 1922-1931 group was 63% less likely to be depressed
- The 1932-1941 group was 79% less likely to be depressed
Healthcare and Depression
This might be due to older people responding to the modern “compression of morbidity” at the end of life with healthcare making people live longer. Poor health and disability are strongly related with depression, making clinical depression hard to measure in seniors.
Minor depressive symptoms can affect the quality of life and response to other illnesses. This can raise the risk for cognitive decline and increase medical costs.
The Stigma Behind Depression
People under the age of 65 had stable depression rates, not rising numbers. People born in later years might be more willing to admit they had depressive symptoms because the stigma with mental illness had declined.
People in their 70s and 80s have stayed healthier longer than previous groups of seniors, maintaining their independence longer, creating a reason to be happy.
Does Depression Drop After Age 85?
Although, there are big differences in people who were born in different eras. The 80-year-olds of today are very different from the 80-year-olds of the past with the possibility of using different language to describe depression.
Findings show that depressive symptoms tend to rise slightly after age 65 as health worsens, then drop after age 85. It could be due to people living that long have little to complain about.
Reno Valley Assisted Living and Retirement Community
Reno Valley is an assisted living and retirement community that makes living independently, while at the same time feeling safe and secure, a reality. We strive to provide the best quality of life for all residents including those suffering from loneliness and depression.
We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact Reno Valley today to learn more about our services or tour our community.