The study is based on a 15 year project observing over 2,000 older Australians that was recently published in Psychology and Aging. Previous studies showed that there is an increase in depressive symptoms with age, but only up to the age of 85. This study is the first one to examine the issue beyond that age.
Women showed more depressive symptoms than men as they aged although interestingly, men showed a faster rate on increase in symptoms so that by the age of 80, the genders was reversed with men coming out worse.
The key factors in the increases included physical impairment, the onset of medical conditions, particularly chronic ones and the approach of death.
Dr Chui who published the report said: “These findings are very significant and have implications for how we deal with old age. 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.”
Within my consulting room, I am seeing more and more mature clients as they come to terms with the aging process, illnesses, a change in lifestyle and relationships. Interestingly, the ability for my client to change their lives around, adapt to new, more positive ways of thinking, remove depression, anxiety and stress, discover new interests and passions etc is no different to my younger patients. They all achieve incredible results.
Additionally, I am always amazed that my maturer clients are so adaptive of changing their habits and ways of behaviour to get more from their lives. We are all on this Earth far longer now than we’ve ever been before and the social changes we are seeing before our very eyes shows that we must adapt and plan for new obstacles, expose ourselves to discovery and challenge, keep fit, take care what we eat and strive for being happier.
If you or someone you know who may be elderly and struggling with life, suggest that they have a chat with a local therapist (I would recommend a solution-focused hypnotherapist as a wonderful starting point). Life is long and it should be happy so don’t suffer in silence.
You really can teach an old dog new tricks!