Demographics, Depression & Differences in Wellness in Older Adults
Recently, researchers examined looked at how demographic variables and depression symptoms related to wellness, resilience, and age perceptions among independent living senior living residents.
In a study that earned a 2018 Bronze Mather LifeWays Innovative Research on Aging Awards, researchers examined looked at how demographic variables and depression symptoms related to wellness, resilience, and age perceptions among independent living senior living residents. The study primarily focused on whether there were group differences between wellness, resilience, and age perception based on a variety of characteristics of the participants. Specifically, researchers examined potential differences based on participants’ age, sex, race, education, and depressive symptoms. This study is notable for its holistic approach to measuring wellness, which included social, spiritual, psychological, and physical factors.
To examine potential differences, researchers surveyed 200 residents in 12 senior housing sites. Their analysis found that younger respondents (age 55 to 70) had lower levels of wellness and resilience than older respondents (those over 70). The researchers suggest two possibilities for this: One is that older adults naturally have higher levels of subjective well-being than younger adults, which could be due to older adults comparing themselves favorably to disadvantaged people. The other possibility is that these differences reflect a generational shift, as younger Baby Boomer have previously been revealed to have lower levels of happiness.
In addition to age differences, residents who suffered from depression had lower levels of wellness, resilience, and higher negative age perceptions. Researchers did not find any additional statistically significant differences between the groups that they compared. However, when they looked at how accurately scores on resilience, perceived age, and wellness scales predicted depressive symptoms, they concluded that health care professionals could use scores on those scales to predict depressive symptoms in older adults with 75 percent accuracy.
This study demonstrated that a demographic category like age can be associated with differences in wellness, resilience, and age perception, which indicates the importance for health care professionals to appreciate the potential impact of an older individual’s specific age or generation. On the other hand, the lack of significant differences between other demographic categories serves as a reminder that within subgroups of older adults, there can still remain considerable variation.
Fullen, M.C., & Granello, D.H. (2018). Holistic wellness in older adulthood: Group differences based on age and mental health. Journal of Holistic Nursing. Published online January 24, 2018. doi: 10.1177/0898010118754665