Computers Help Seniors Beat the Blues

Study finds PC-using elderly are less prone to depression

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MONDAY, Aug. 22, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- For many seniors, staying mentally healthy may involve booting up: A new study finds that older adults who use computers have fewer depressive symptoms than those who don't.

The study was sponsored by Village Care of New York, a not-for-profit long-term care provider. The findings were presented Thursday at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.

Researcher Kathleen Triche, who directs one of Village Care's senior information centers, noted that computers seem to give older adults a greater connection with the world around them.

"Given the social and informational nature of older adults' computer practices -- e-mail, chat rooms and health information gathering, for example, it seemed likely that this would be beneficial to an individual's overall mental health," Triche said in a prepared statement.

The study included 206 adults over the age of 65 (mean age 80). Along with the link between computer use and fewer depressive symptoms, the study also found that computer users in this group tended to be younger, have higher incomes, and report higher functioning in daily living activities.

"Clearly, those older adults in this study who use computers report fewer depressive symptoms, regardless of how many hours per week they use the computers," Triche said.

However, she noted these findings are among a highly educated group of older adults living in a small geographic area.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about depression and older adults.

SOURCE: Village Care of New York, news release, Aug. 17, 2005

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