Aim. To explore depressive symptoms among nursing home residents without cognitive impairment and the relationship between their depressive symptoms and dependence on activities of daily living, comorbidity and sociodemographic variables.
Background. Depression has become a major health care concern among older people, but depression and its association with functioning in activities of daily living among nursing home residents without cognitive impairment has previously not been studied in Norway.
Design. A cross-sectional comparative design.
Methods. The sample comprised older residents (age 65–102 years; n = 227) from 30 nursing homes with at least six months of residence. All nursing home residents had a Clinical Dementia Rating scale score ≤0·5 and were capable of conversation. Scores on the Geriatric Depression Scale (15 items) and demographic variables were collected during face-to-face interviews. The activities of daily living were assessed using the Katz Index based on nurses’ observation, and medical diagnoses were obtained from the patient records. Pearson’s chi-square test and ordinal logistic regression were used to identify possible associations between activities of daily living and depression.
Results. After adjustment for age, sex, marital status, length of stay per year and education, more dependence on activities of daily living was associated with depression [odds ratio (OR): 1·18; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1·04–1·37; p = 0·02]. Higher age was associated with less depression (OR: 0·64; 95% CI: 0·43–0·94; p = 0·02), that is, the odds of depression declined by 36% for each 10-year increase in age.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that depression symptoms are a major health problem among nursing home residents without cognitive impairment and that younger residents are more prone to having depressive symptoms.
Relevance to clinical practice. Nursing home staff should communicate with and observe residents closely for signs of depression, especially younger residents with high dependence on activities of daily living. In addition, formal screening of all residents for depression using an instrument that is sensitive to older people is recommended.