• Life Transitions

    Posted on November 24th, 2008

    Written by Jaimie


    Comments: “Centenarians ‘Grossly’ Underdiagnosed..”


    ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2008)  For many of the elderly, the golden years are anything but. Faced with health problems, financial issues and the death of a spouse or loved one, many adults 65 years and older suffer from depression. While research is emerging to help this group understand and treat the problem, another group – centenarians – has been left largely in the dark.

    “Centenarians are still rare, and depression hasn’t been studied thoroughly in this group,” said Adam Davey, a developmental psychologist in the College of Health Professions at Temple University. “We’ve found that it’s a very under diagnosed condition among people over 100 years old, yet it’s one of the most easily treated forms of mental illness.”

    …more than 60,000 people in the U.S. are 100 years old or over, and as baby boomers start to hit their 100-year mark, that number is expected to more than quadruple to 274,000. …a group of researchers have been studying this group more and more to learn about successful late-life aging…..Based on responses … by a sample of 244 centenarians, … more than 25 percent showed clinically relevant levels of depressive symptoms, yet only 8 percent reported having a current diagnosis of depression.

    Davey notes that … a number of factors, including poor nutritional status, urinary incontinence, limited physical activity and past history of anxiety. “People who suffer from depression tend to have a high risk of mortality, so it’s puzzling to see higher numbers among the oldest old,” he said….researchers found that centenarians living in a community setting were found to have higher levels of depression than their younger counterparts. …it is important for doctors, nurses and even family members to focus on the larger picture to ensure a better quality of life.

    “Caregivers often focus on the physical part of health,” he said. “Or, when they look at they mental health of older adults, they focus more on dementia. But depression is important to consider too – it’s not just something that younger people suffer from.”…

    To read the complete article go to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124080810.htm


    When I came across this article I was oddly pleased. I was happy to see that the scientific community is taking interest in the oldest old, a population that is commonly forgotten. We talk so much about baby boomers, and forget that there are plenty of older adults here and now that need assistance with issues associated with aging. As this article is suggesting, more focus is needed on the oldest old for mental health issues that are appearing to be more prevalent then once thought.

    Many times, I think, the underdiagnosis of depression occurs in not only those 100 years of age, but from 75 up. At this point, the older adult is experiencing a lot of changes physically, which is affecting them socially and functionally. They may be losing sight of their independence as they suffer physically, emotionally, and socially. The medical community comes in contact with this population more than any other. They should be able to pick up on signs of depression, right? I feel that the reason this is not the case, is the stigma faced by this population. The medical community may look at them, and think, “Well, their old, and in pain, why wouldn’t they be sad.” Ok, maybe, but this snap judgment of the sad, old age folks cannot be a part of the very vital medical evaluation these patients need.

    Let’s take our time and view our clients as not an old person who has every reason to be sad, but as a person who may be severely affected by their mood changes. These changes may very well be connected to their current experiences as they age, though depressed should not be viewed as a normal part of aging.

    This entry was posted on Monday, November 24th, 2008 at 4:59 pm and is filed under Life Transitions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    Take a look at some of the responses we have had to this article.

  • Leave a Reply

    Let us know what you thought.

  • Name(required):