Depression in Older Adults
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
Depression in older adults is a serious issue that ought to be addressed with the seriousness it deserves. In as much as there is some truth in associating depression with old age, there are instances where the community an elderly person finds himself/ herself in and the society at large have contributed to depression. Therefore, this paper will focus on the role of adult care homes and how they contribute to depression in older adults. In addition, the paper will also look at some of the ways the society in general has failed in protecting the interests of the older people and what can be done to resolve the issue.
The population under study is that of older adults. To be more precise, the research study will focus on older adults admitted in elderly care homes. This is because, the main aim of the study would be to explore which group between those in elderly care homes and those in private residence is more likely to suffer depression (Akincigil, 2011). Participants will undergo medical checkup in order to accurately associate their depression with their admission to elderly care homes and not as a result of other diseases or mental disorders.
Statistics have shown that depression affects atleast 1 in 5 older persons living within the community and on the other hand, at least 2 in 5 older persons living in elderly care homes are affected by depression. Research further shows that majority of individuals would prefer spending their old age within the community set up and preferably with their family members than living in an elderly care home citing depression as a major issue (Jongenelis, 2014).
Quality of care in adult care homes is dependent on a number of considerations such as good relations between the caregivers and the residents and sensitivity to issues such as religious and cultural affiliations of the residents. It is important to note that older adults just like every other human being, desire to be respected and handled with dignity. Therefore, the manner in which caregivers handle them and how the society in general behave during visits may have a negative impact on older adults leading to depression and hence needs to be looked into carefully.
Individuals affected by this issue are mostly adults in care homes and especially those with mental health problems. Depression affects adults in care homes in a number of ways. Firstly, depressed adults may experience loss of appetite. Secondly, depression may lead to altered sleep patterns and lastly, depression may accelerate/ contribute to memory loss and confusion (Beyond Blue, 2015).
Given the fact that most adults in their later life and especially those with mental problems receive care in adult care homes, there are a number of social stratifications that contribute to depression. Firstly, there is the issue of social class. Adults who find themselves in care homes and consider themselves to be of a low social class are more likely to experienced depression than those from perceived high social class. It is also worth noting that due to social class, some adults, especially those with children that are highly dependent on them begin to feel that they are not doing enough to provide for their children and in-effect, increase their chances of being depressed (Duckworth, 2009). Secondly, there are those who feel that their influence is minimal probably due to their race or wealth and therefore, they are more reluctant to share issues affecting them hence leading to depression. In fact, the greatest problem is that some of them may even feel that they are receiving low quality care due to their social class and therefore, become even more depressed.
It is worth noting that in late life, socioeconomic factors play a major role in elevating the risk of depression. Basically, financial status tends to deteriorate and amounts to the most stressful moments lived by older adults. The situation is even worse for older adults who are economically disadvantaged. This is because it exposes them to chronic stressors such as financial strains and exposure to both unsafe and unstable environments. It is also important to indicate that early exposure to such socioeconomic factors may even worsen the situation during late adulthood. All these factors may complicate the care giving process.
Care giving in adult homes is not an easy task as caregivers are constantly required to be sensitive to cultural issues. Indeed it is a fact that many adults in care homes come from diverse cultures. This is highly characterized by the various beliefs exhibited by such adults. Therefore, in a situation where an older adult in a home care feels that their culture is not observed or rather respected during the care giving process, then the chances that they will be depressed are higher (McCrae, 2011).
Other than socioeconomic and cultural factors, there are also environmental factors that influence the adult population at hand. Evidence based research has shown that older adults in care homes are more likely to suffer depression than those receiving care in their homes. This is greatly attributed to the environment they find themselves in. it is important to understand that older adults in care homes have very minimal chances of interacting with the outside world. As a result, most of their time is spent with care givers who may not really satisfy their need hence pacing them at a greater risk of suffering depression.
Indeed it is evident from the discussion that depression in older adults is a serious issue that needs not to be ignored. In fact, it calls for effective measure to resolve the same. However, there are many factors that represent challenges in resolving the issue. One such factor is political factor. Generally, many governments tend to focus more on providing healthcare to the working population and pay little attention to adult care homes as they are regarded a financial burden. As a result, the quality of care depreciates in government sponsored institutions leading to inability to effectively deal with the issue of depression in older adults (Meeks, 2011).
There are also psychological factors that hinder the efforts to resolve the issue. To begin with, it would be important to note that many adults that end up in elderly care homes do not do so on their own will but rather as a preference by family member who probably feel their loved ones requires specialized care. However, this may have great psychological impacts on the elderly as they may even begin to feel that they are not loved and that nobody cares for them. Therefore, when they begin to suffer depression, it becomes quite challenging to resolve the issue because the psychological state is altered.
Lastly, there are historical factors that play a major role in hindering efforts to resolve depression in older adults. One such factor is depression during childhood and early adulthood. For instance, if an individual had constrains in receiving quality education, healthcare and other social services during childhood, then the issue becomes more pronounced during late adulthood especially in regard to low income and financial stressors hence making it hard to resolve depression in older adults (National Institute of Health, 2010).
Over the years, social theories have been used as analytical frameworks or rather paradigms to examine social phenomena. Basically, there are three primary social theories namely; functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. Based on these theories, depression in older adults can be explained from a societal perspective.
To begin with, there is the functionalism social theory. According to this theory, social institutions are seen as a collective means to achieve individual and social needs. In addition, the theory aims at exploring how societies maintain stability and internal cohesion. Focusing on the issue of depression in older adults, functionalism theory would focus on institutions such as rehabilitation centers, care homes and other governmental institutions. Inadequacy of such institutions and limited resources to support them would be considered as the major factors that lead to depression in older adults.
The other social theory that can be used to explain the issue of depression in older adults is the conflict theory. According to this theory, the society is viewed as a dynamic entity that is constantly undergoing changes resulting from competitions over scarce resources. From this perspective, it is evident that depression in older adults can be attributed to social conflicts in care homes. A good example of such conflicts is poverty. Most adults from low social class or rather poor background are likely to suffer from depression as opposed to those from high social class (Rodda, 2011).
Finally, depression in older adults can be evaluated from a symbolic interactionism perspective. Based on this theory, an individual plays a major role in shaping interactions with the society at large. In other words, an individual is more sensitive to how the society views him/her. Therefore, the issue of depression in older adults can be attributed to how individuals view themselves from the societal perspective while in the care homes. For instance, an individual may feel that the society considers them a burden and hence may suffer from depression.
Social psychology on the other hand examines how other people’s thoughts and behaviors affect an individual’s thoughts and behaviors in various social groups they find themselves in. One of the major subfields of social psychology that is of particular interest is social cognition. This is a growing area of social psychology that basically studies how people think about, perceive and remember information concerning others.
Individual psychology on the other hand explains the main motives of human thought and behavior. According to Adler, these motives include man’s striving for power and superiority as a means of compensating for feelings of inferiority. One of the subfields of individual psychology is the study of social interest. In general terms, this is the feeling of oneness with all humanity. It is through social interest that the society is bound together (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014).
Social cultural theory is one of the theories of social psychology that best outlines the beliefs, thoughts and behaviors of older adults suffering from depression in elderly care homes. According to the theory, a person’s behavior is influenced by cultural values and social norms. Furthermore, the theory emphasizes the role of individualism and collectivism in addressing social problems. Therefore, based on this theory, older adults are more likely to be depressed because of how they perceive the society treats them. It however takes individual as well as collective efforts to curb the issue.
On an individual level, an older person may perpetuate the risks of depression through a number of ways. Firstly, there is the tendency to have a feeling of low self-esteem and/or worthless. This may be as a result of one viewing themselves as respectable members of the society and ashamed of being in an elderly care home. Secondly, an individual may have a feeling that he is becoming a burden to the society and may view his/ her admission to an elderly care home as a means to get rid of him/ her. All this contribute to depression significantly (Terresi, 2011).
There is also the aspect of group psychology. From this level, a group of elderly persons may have a bad influence on each other and adopt the notion that the society does not care about them or that their families have neglected them. As a result, many older persons may become depressed or risk depression.
Focusing on social interest as a specific subcategory of individual psychology, one is able to better understand the issue of depression in older adults. Indeed it is true that one of the greatest contributors of depression in older adults is the feeling of loneliness. Older adults are humans too and yarn for love and affection especially from their friends and family. Therefore, in order to effectively address the issue of depression in older adults, it is important for caregivers and those close to the elderly to uphold the social responsibility of being concerned about others and setting goals whose success benefits even the elderly.
Part II: Research Proposal
Successful research projects require adequate and timely planning. To ensure this is achieved, researchers are required to identify a population, an issue or a problem related to the identified population, gather academic resources that relate to the issue and also determine the statistical analysis method to be used. Therefore, this proposal will provide a detailed description of how the research will be conducted, the number of participants involved and the statistical analysis method that I intend to use.
The research study I intend to conduct concerns the issue of depression in older adults living in elderly care homes. Indeed it is true that most elderly people suffer from many old age related illnesses with depression being one of them. However, it worth noting that in as much as this is true, there are environmental, cultural and societal conditions that also contribute to the issue (McCrae, 2011). Therefore, in this proposal, the main issue that I intend to measure is the level of depression in older adults residing in elderly care homes as compared to those receiving care at their homes. This is because; depression in older adults is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. However, when older adults residing in elderly care homes are more threatened by the issue than those residing in their homes, then the real causes ought to be established in order to adequately address the issue and mitigate the consequences.
In order to deliver successful and comprehensive research projects, having a realistic timeline is necessary. Therefore, the proposed timeline for this project is 9 months. There are a number of reasons that influence such a timeline. Firstly, it is important to note that most research studies are sometimes costly. In fact, it is true to say that the longer the project takes to reach its completion, the more expensive it is. So for the purpose of working within an affordable budget, it would be important to consider a timeline of less than a year. The other factor that influences my chosen timeline is the availability of resources and participants for the proposed research. Given the nature of the research, most of the materials will be readily available and also reaching to participants won’t really consume lots of time. So, a timeline of nine months is indeed convenient.
For the purpose of this research study, I would recruit both the care givers in elderly homes and the elderly patients. The reason I would choose caregivers for the study is influenced by a number of factors. To begin with, it would be important to point out that caregivers are the ones who spend most of the time with elderly patients and therefore are in a position to offer credible information regarding their health status. Caregivers are also important for this study as they are in a position to give helpful information regarding their experience with elderly patients. On the other hand, the choice of elderly patients as participants is influenced by the fact that for credible results, the research will involve observation of the participants over a given period of time (National Institute of Health, 2010).
To conduct credible research study within a reasonable timeline, it would be important to have a sufficient number of staff. Therefore, I suggest a staff population of fifty qualified research experts. Out of the fifty people, some will assist in interviewing the caregivers and other will deal with the elderly individuals under study (Duckworth, 2009).
I find qualitative approach the most ideal approach for the study for a number of reasons. Firstly, qualitative approach allows the researcher to conduct the study under a naturalistic setting. In other words, the research participants do not need to be placed in a confined laboratory, but rather are investigated under the environment they are well familiar with. Secondly, the approach allows the researcher to investigate individuals’ personal experience of phenomena. Thirdly, qualitative approach is flexible. This is especially true considering the fact that studies involving human beings as participants are interactive and as such, new developments during the study may prompt researchers to shift focus of their studies. Lastly, the research approach is more interactive compared to quantitative approach and hence by engaging good communication skills and establishing good relations with the participants, one is able to collect valuable information.
As for the number of subjects required for this project, I suggest 600 participants drawn from at least 50 major elderly care homes and private homes as well. Out of the 600 participants, 100 will be the caregivers, which mean at least 2 caregivers per care home will participate in the research study. The remaining 500 subjects will be the elderly patients randomly selected from both the care homes and private homes (Rodda, 2011).
Indeed the proposed research study is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will help us as the society to understand the collective role of ensuring that the elderly enjoy their sunset years without depression by exposing our limitations in how we interact with them. It is also important because it will help to explain why such differences exist between elderly care home residents and those living at home and the necessary steps that can be followed to mitigate the issue. The main entities that will benefit from this research study include governmental clinical centers and elderly care homes as well as private institutions offering elderly care services.
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