Do Centenarians Have Higher Levels of Depression? Findings from the Georgia Centenarian Study

Authors


Address correspondence to Peter Martin, Gerontology Program, 1096 LeBaron Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail: pxmartin@iastate.edu

Abstract

Objectives

To examine age differences on specific items and subscales of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS).

Design

Specific items, subscales, and total score on the GDS of three age groups were compared.

Setting

Community-dwelling older adults.

Participants

One hundred thirty-nine centenarians were compared with 93 octogenarians and 91 sexagenarians.

Measurements

GDS scores.

Results

Results indicated age group differences in overall depression score and in withdrawal-apathy-vigor (WAV), cognitive impairment, and hopelessness subscale scores. Significant age group differences were also obtained for 12 of the 30 items. Centenarians rated higher on all subscales, but there was no difference in dysphoric mood and worry.

Conclusion

It is important to distinguish different dimensions of depression when assessing very old populations because some of the questions on the GDS are associated with fatigue, mild cognitive decline, and decline in physical functioning, which increase with aging. Future research should revisit the concept of depression in very late life.

Ancillary