Roughly 6.5 million Americans over 65 are affected by depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and a new study suggests that these individuals may be a greater risk for admission to the hospital. A team of international researchers found that older men who experience depressive symptoms not only went to the hospital more often, but required longer services and had poorer overall health.
The study, which was published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at more than 5,400 Australian men over the age of 69. Relying on a 16-item scale, researchers found that 6.3 percent of the participants had moderate to severe depression. Approximately half of the depressed seniors had at least one emergency hospital admission, while only 23 percent of those without depression did.
The findings underscore the important role that mental well-being plays in healthy aging. The relationship may soon become even more apparent, with the population of people 65 and older growing by about 10,000 each day. Researchers say there should be more studies investigating the impact of depression.
"The study of depression in older age has often been neglected and should be on top of the agenda of research funding bodies and policy makers," study author Matthew Prina told Heathline.com.
There are a variety of ways seniors can help stave off depression, and one of the most effective options is staying mentally and physically engaged during retirement. In fact, a recent study out of the Duke University Medical Center found a relationship between exercise and lower levels of depression in the elderly. Researchers determined that over the course of 16 weeks, study participants who exercised regularly enjoyed improvement in their depressive symptoms compared to people who only took medication, ABC News reports.