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Depression in Elderly Predicts Nursing Home Admission

Self-reporting of sadness, depressive symptoms can identify those at risk

THURSDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly people who report themselves to be sad or depressed are significantly more likely to be admitted to a nursing home, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Yael Harris, Ph.D., M.H.S., of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Baltimore, and James K. Cooper, M.D., of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., analyzed data on 137,000 Medicare + Choice enrollees aged 65 and older from the Health Outcomes Survey, as well as data from the Nursing Home Minimum Data Set and the Medicare Enrollment Database.

The participants had not been institutionalized at the time they filled in a questionnaire regarding their functional status, chronic health conditions, demographics and questions relating to mood.

Once the data findings were controlled for age, race, sex, marital status, home ownership, functional status and comorbid conditions, self-reporting of sadness or depression was significantly linked to the risk of nursing home admission.

"A single question about depressive symptoms can be used to identify individuals at higher risk of nursing home admission," the authors conclude. "Investigation of the relationship between social support, depression and nursing home admission should be considered in future research."

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