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Arch Hellen Med, 33(3), May-June 2016, 368-374


The prevalence of depression in elderly members of the Open Care Centre for the Elderly in a mountain village of Crete

Α. Alefantinou,1 Κ. Vlasiadis,2 Α. Philalithis3
1Social Worker, MPH, Heraklion, Crete,
2Dental Department, University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Crete,
3Department of Social Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

OBJECTIVE Elderly people face social, psychological, professional and family changes. The increase in numbers of elderly citizens, and consequently their problems, has obliged European nations to plan and implement social care policies for their protection. These policies include the establishment of Open Care Centres for the Elderly (KAPI), which are intended to prevent the problems of the elderly and to investigate the issues affecting them. This study aimed to measure the prevalence of depression among the elderly members of the KAPI of a mountainous village in rural Crete, Gonies in the Malevisi district.

METHOD This was a study of 78 elderly people (≥60 years), all members of the Gonies KAPI, who were evaluated using the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15). The questionnaire, which was translated into Greek and validated, focuses on psychological dysphoria, the anxieties of elderly people and their perceived quality of life. Statistical analysis was carried out using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U tests on two independent samples, the Kruskal-Wallis test on more than two samples, and the Chi-Square test. In some cases it was necessary to apply the Fisher exact test with Monte-Carlo correction. A factorial analysis was also carried out.

RESULTS Of the 78 elderly individuals studied, 57.6% were men, 48% had completed primary education and 42.3% were in the 60–74 years age group. According to the GDS-15, 46.2% presented symptoms of depression. Factorial analysis identified four factors (apathy, despair, lack of motivation, isolation). The family situation, having children or not, and educational level were found to be correlated with depression. Widows and widowers, divorcees and unmarried individuals reported high levels of anxiety, despair and unhappiness. The female gender was associated with uncertainty about the future (p=0.01), anxiety (p=0.04) and isolation (p=0.01), and its association with depression was borderline (p=0.052).

CONCLUSIONS The observation of a high rate of depressive symptoms in the elderly rural population studied confirms the necessity for and usefulness of the short GDS-15 scale, which can assist in the timely diagnosis of depression.

Key words: Adult daycare centre, Aging, Geriatric psychiatry, Old age depression.

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