Aim: This study aimed to investigate factors associated with depression in a sample of elderly Japanese individuals in a rural community and to examine differences among factors associated with individuals living alone or living with others.
Methods: Using a population-based sample from rural Japan, we assessed a total of 1552 participants aged 65 years or older by mailing a survey and evaluating responses based on the Geriatric Depression Scale. Factors associated with depression were also examined.
Results: We received 964 valid responses. Depressed subjects comprised 20.5% of the sample. Living alone was significantly related to depression. In individuals living alone, depression was associated with loss of appetite, suicidal ideation, financial strain, and worries in life. However, multiple linear regression analyses revealed that the influence of living alone was negated by having a good social support system.
Conclusion: These findings confirm that living alone is an important factor in depression among the elderly in a rural part of Japan. Results also confirm what others have found in Western cultures: high levels of social support, awareness of receiving social support, and willingness to receive assistance may reduce the risk of depression.