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Seniors Benefit from Nontraditional Depression Screens

Emerging research suggests an improved method to diagnose depression among nursing home residents is to use a series of indicators that are not especially connected to mood.

Experts believe depression affects approximately 30 to 40 percent of nursing home residents, but it often goes unrecognized, which can lead to lower quality of life or even suicide.

Researchers at the University of Missouri believe use of the new indicators will dramatically improve the quality of life for elders.

“Prompt diagnosis and treatment of depression is essential to improve the quality of life for nursing home residents,” said Lorraine Phillips, assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing.

“Many elderly people develop certain clinical characteristics at the same time they develop depression. Understanding these changes is essential to quickly and accurately diagnosing depression in nursing home residents.”

Changes in characteristics that Phillips found to be associated with the development of depression include increased verbal aggression, urinary incontinence, increased pain, weight loss, changes in care needs, reduced cognitive ability and decline in performance of daily living activities.

“Depression is currently diagnosed using several methods that emphasize mood symptoms including interviewing and self-reporting of depression symptoms,” Phillips said.

“However, since elderly depression may appear with non-mood symptoms, these characteristics identified in this study can help diagnose depression that may be overlooked by traditional screening methods.”

Phillips found that residents with increased verbal aggression were 69 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who had not shown these changes. Decreases in activities of daily living, such as feeding or dressing one’s self, also were associated with increased depression diagnosis.

The research indicates that men and women in nursing homes are equally likely to develop depression. This contrasts with the overall population, where women are more likely than men to experience depression.

To study these changes, MU researchers analyzed data on more than 14,000 nursing home residents aged 65 and older who were not diagnosed with depression at the beginning of the study.

Researchers analyzed changes in various clinical factors, other than mood changes, to discover which changes were associated with the development of depression during a three-month interval of time.

The data was collected from the Missouri Minimum Data Set, a federally mandated process for clinical assessment of all residents in Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing homes.

The study was published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

Source: University of Missouri

Seniors Benefit from Nontraditional Depression Screens

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Seniors Benefit from Nontraditional Depression Screens. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/10/seniors-benefit-from-nontraditional-depression-screens/20733.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.