Saturday, February 21, 2009

Depression in Nursing Home Residents

Do you think your life is empty? This is the single question the researchers in this article use to examine depression in a sample of "care home residents with a high prevalence of dementia". The article is presented in a brief form. I would like you to examine the methods section and see if you can figure out how they conducted the study based on the information provided. Further, after reading the article, I would like you to discuss the use of the question "Do you think your life is empty" as a predictor of depression. Click the link to read the article.


  1. Original Post by Daphne Arnold

    I am a little confused after reading this article. The understanding that I got from this article is that this study was a helping or supportive component to the FEVER trial. I think that they conducted this study in based on the hypothesis that elderly people are in residental care and who are sick are more likely to experience depression than elderly people who are healthy and living independently. I think that some times that mind and body can act as one. I mean that if the mind is weak that the body will become weak as well. It's like that saying if you think that you are defeated, then you are. I think that the question "Do you think your life is empty can be a predictor of depression in all people, not just the elderly. If you are hopeful, healthy, and think that you have lived your life in the fullest, then you are in a better spiritual place than someone who worries and regrets the choices they have made. If you have did all you can do and think that you have led a full life then you have. If you don't then you can go into despair about the things that should have or would have been in your life. I know that I look back over my life sometimes and I think about all the things that I wish I could have done. Sometimes I am in despair. When I get into this mode of thinking, I realize that I don't feel good, I'm tired and frustrated and worn out. But when I think of all the good things in life and realize that I'm still here and that I have my whole life ahead of me and that I can still do them, then I am ready to take on the world. I am happy and enjoy living each day to the fullest because I know that I still have time to enjoy the world. When you get older, I think that many people think that most of their time is up and that they are too old to try some of the things that they want to do, so they do fall into depression and despair. I watched the bucket list with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholas and I think that it is one of the best examples of older adults who realize that they can still are living, no matter the age, and that they can still experience the fun of living life to it's fullest everyday. As some people say, I think that age is just a number, so enjoy life fully because you never know when God will call your number.

  2. Original Posting by Malinda S.
    The article stated that the study was an ancillary component of the FEVER trail, which I interpreted to mean that the questions were included in the study, perhaps at the beginning. I believe the initial study was to see if depression correlated with the onset the influenza virus in some way, maybe to determine how long they were sick with the virus. I do not think the question “Do you think you life is emptied” should serve as a predictor of depression, possibly a component. What if the question was asked on a day where the respondent was not feeling well, not necessarily depressed. There are days when nothing you do goes as planned, those days the cup may be half emptied.

  3. Malinda S. response to Daphne
    Daphne I feel that we are what we believe and a product of how we have lived our lives. My limited knowledge of dementia concerns the lack of memory, even if it is fleeting sometimes. Although, I have never worked directly with the elderly population and certainly not with anyone who has dementia, I was wondering how the researchers could tell if a dementia patient was depressed.

  4. Original Post for Depression in Nursing Home Residents by: Shanté Hamm

    I believe “Do you think your life is empty” was conducted as a partial study to FEVER to gather data regarding the patients’ reactions to influenza vaccinations. It seems that the pre and post tests (the study as a whole) were given to those participants/patients who had not had the vaccination within a six month time period, and to those who had not had a known reaction; one-group pretest-posttest design. I believe the study was conducted to analyze the affects of influenza vaccinations with depression in dementia patients.

    I do not believe the question “do you think your life is empty” is an accurate predictor of depression. “Empty” could have various meanings to different people, including dementia patients, and not necessarily mean “depression” only. For example, a person who has lost friends due to natural causes may feel “empty” from their friends’ companionship, but may not be depressed from loneliness. He or she could still have loved ones who are actively in their life. It is an open-ended question that has other answers beside depression.

  5. Shanté’s response to Daphne Arnold’s posting

    Daphne, I think it’s like looking at the glass as being either half full or half empty. The question “do you think your life is empty” sounds morbid, but it may not necessarily mean depression. (That is why I feel it is not a predictor of depression.) I agree with you, that if you think about the negative things for too long, you can become depressed. Emptiness to me is simply a state of mind; if a person lost a loved one or a friend, a job, or even a car (with our economy) surely they would feel some sort of remorse or sadness. It’s only natural, but it may not cause a feeling of total emptiness because there may be other things to help uplift their spirits such as other family members and friends, or other financial assistance and means (unemployment, savings, etc). It really depends on that person and their outlook on life.

    I had to reread the article a few times; it was confusing to me as well. :-)

  6. Patricia Ford
    Original Post

    According to the method section, this study was designed to act as a supplement to the Fever Trial. What is the fever trial? I know it has something to do with influenza vaccinations and depression but I can not accurately state its purpose. The design of the study leads you assume their purpose and what they are measuring. The question “Do you feel your life is empty” should not be utilized to assess depression in the elderly or anyone else. The question is too vague. Its meaning can be misinterpreted. For example, I was a stay at home parent for five years. It was the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever done. However, by the third year, I was going stir crazy. I am NOT what you would call the traditional housewife and I was feeling something was not being fulfilled within me. The third year I enrolled into college and went to school for a few hours in the evenings. If you had asked me during those first few years if I felt my life was empty I might have responded “yes.” I have never been depressed and hope I never will be. I loved my family, friends, and life but I felt I was not doing everything with my life that I wanted. A portion of it felt empty until I enrolled in school. I don’t think I would have necessarily jumped automatically to linking feeling somewhat empty to depression. I feel that much more is needed to determine and diagnose depression. From my understanding, these participants were not afforded the opportunity to elaborate on feeling empty. I feel other variables of depression should have been considered. Researchers could look at sleep, memory difficulties, concentration problems, weight loss or gain, suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, etc. These questions may have been able to be answered by staff members (nurses, physicians, family members, social workers, etc). If that person answered yes to that question and yes to a number of other questions designed to measure depression, then I may be able to conclude symptoms of depression depending on other factors. There are so many things in the study that was not considered as least how I see it.

  7. Patricia Ford
    Response to Shaunte's response to Daphne Arnold

    I totally agree the question is not a good predictor of depression. Feeling as if your life is empty may not be an indication that you are depressed. It may mean an indication or a desire for a change or a desire to find your way after experiencing the loss of a loved one as you mentioned. Could we ever know what this question means to every person? No.. The question is much too vague.

  8. Josh, I cannot open this article.
    Julie Lindsey