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There are growing concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of older adults. We examined the effect of the pandemic on the risk of depression in older adults.
We analyzed data from the prospective cohort study of Korean older adults, which has been followed every 2 years. Among the 2308 participants who completed both the third and the fourth follow-up assessments, 58.4% completed their fourth follow-up before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the rest completed it during the pandemic. We conducted face-to-face diagnostic interviews using Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview and used Geriatric Depression Scale. We performed generalized estimating equations and logistic regression analyses.
The COVID-19 pandemic was associated with increased depressive symptoms in older adults [b (standard error) = 0.42 (0.20), p = 0.040] and a doubling of the risk for incident depressive disorder even in euthymic older adults without a history of depression (odds ratio = 2.44, 95% confidence interval 1.18–5.02, p = 0.016). Less social activities, which was associated with the risk of depressive disorder before the pandemic, was not associated with the risk of depressive disorder during the pandemic. However, less family gatherings, which was not associated with the risk of depressive disorder before the pandemic, was associated with the doubled risk of depressive disorder during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly influences the risk of late-life depression in the community. Older adults with a lack of family gatherings may be particularly vulnerable.
Social support programs for dementia caregivers were widely used in order to reduce care burden. We investigated which types of social supports can reduce psychological and non-psychological burdens of dementia caregivers, and explored the mechanism of those social supports.
We evaluated 731 community-dwelling dementia patients and their caregivers from the National Survey of Dementia Care in South Korea. We investigated the five types of social supports (emotional support, informational support, tangible support, positive social interaction, affectionate support) using the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey in each caregiver. The mechanisms of specific types of social support on psychological/non-psychological burden were examined using path analysis.
Positive social interaction and affectionate support reduced psychological burden via direct and indirect paths. Tangible support reduced the non-psychological burden via direct and indirect paths. Informational support and emotional support were not helpful for reducing psychological or non-psychological burden. A maximum of 20% of psychological burden could be relieved by positive social interaction and 10.3% of that could be reduced by affectionate support. Tangible support was associated with a 15.1% maximal improvement in non-psychological burden.
In order to reduce caregiver burden in dementia effectively, psychosocial interventions should be tailored to target type of caregiver burden.
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