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In older adults, frailty and depression symptoms are linked and can affect spouses

Date:
April 29, 2016
Source:
American Geriatrics Society
Summary:
Researchers examined the effects of frailty and depression on married couples. People married to a frail spouse were likely to become frail themselves, and people married to a depressed spouse were more likely to become depressed, too.
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Frailty, a condition that affects 10 percent of people aged 65 and older, can make older adults more prone to disability, falls, hospitalization and a shorter lifespan. Recently, researchers writing in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society examined the effects of frailty and depression on married couples. Although we know much about the effects of frailty and depression on individuals, up until now, little has been uncovered about how these two conditions may be connected within couples.

The researchers learned that the frailer an older person is, the more likely it is that he or she will become depressed. The more depressed an older person is, the more likely he or she is to become frail.

What's more, the researchers also learned that people married to a frail spouse were likely to become frail themselves, and that people married to a depressed spouse were more likely to become depressed, too. Interestingly, older husbands tended to be more depressed and frail than younger husbands. Older wives were not more depressed, but were frailer than younger wives.

These findings are based on a study of data from 1,260 married couples, aged 65 and older, collected during the Cardiovascular Health Study.

Generally, people are considered frail if they have three or more of these conditions:

  • Low body weight (unintentional loss of 10 pounds in the past year)
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Slowness
  • Physical inactivity

The researchers concluded that frailty and depression symptoms may be intertwined for spouses, suggesting that senior living facilities might consider ways to increase couples' engagement in physical activities, social activities, and mutual support.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Geriatrics Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joan Monin, Margaret Doyle, Becca Levy, Richard Schulz, Terri Fried, Trace Kershaw. Spousal Associations Between Frailty and Depressive Symptoms: Longitudinal Findings from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2016; 64 (4): 824 DOI: 10.1111/jgs.14023

Cite This Page:

American Geriatrics Society. "In older adults, frailty and depression symptoms are linked and can affect spouses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160429133515.htm>.
American Geriatrics Society. (2016, April 29). In older adults, frailty and depression symptoms are linked and can affect spouses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160429133515.htm
American Geriatrics Society. "In older adults, frailty and depression symptoms are linked and can affect spouses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160429133515.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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