Aging News for Senior Citizens

Aging & Longevity

Retirement may not be bliss many expect before reaching age 65

Key factors physical impairment, chronic medical conditions, approach of death depress seniors

depressed elderly manNov. 14, 2015 - A new study punches a hole in the balloon of happiness and bliss that many have associated with turning age 65, which is generally considered the age we become senior citizens. The new study says we become more depressed from age 65 onward.

Those younger than 65 may often look fondly at the age of retirement – no daily reporting to work, the pursuit of hobbies or interests too long delayed, more time with family and friends.

The notion that older people are happier than younger people is challenged by a recent Australian study led by a University of Bradford psychology lecturer, Dr. Helena Chui.

 

The study was recently published in the international journal Psychology and Aging. It builds on a 15-year project observing over 2,000 older Australians living in the Adelaide area.

Previous studies have shown an increase in depressive symptoms with age but only until the age of 85. This is the first study to examine the issue beyond that age.

Both men and women taking part in the study reported increasingly more depressive symptoms as they aged, with women initially starting with more depressive symptoms than men. However, men showed a faster rate of increase in symptoms so that the difference in the genders was reversed at around the age of 80.

Key factors in these increases include levels of physical impairment, the onset of medical conditions, particularly chronic ones, and the approach of death. Half of those in the study suffered with arthritis and both men and women with the chronic condition reported more depressive symptoms than those without.

"These findings are very significant and have implications for how we deal with old age,” says Dr Chui.

“It's the first study to tell us depressive symptoms continue to increase throughout old age. We are in a period of unprecedented success in terms of people living longer than ever and in greater numbers and we should be celebrating this but it seems that we are finding it hard to cope.

"It seems that we need to look carefully at the provision of adequate services to match these needs, particularly in the area of mental health support and pain management. Social policies and ageing-friendly support structures, such as the provision of public transport and access to health care services are needed to target the 'oldest-old' adults as a whole."

The study is funded by the Australian Research Council, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the Canada Research Chairs Program. The research team included Denis Gestorf of Humboldt University, Christiane A. Hoppman of University of British Columbia, and Mary A. Luszcz of Flinders University.

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