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Depression can lead to early death in older adults with diabetes

June 5, 2014

A recent study by the University of California, Los Angeles in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has demonstrated a link between depression and premature death in adults 65 and older with diabetes. The same effect was not found for diabetic older adults without depression or for younger people.

The same effect was not found for diabetic older adults without depression or for younger people.

The researchers suggest that individuals who are depressed may be less likely to take medications as prescribed, regularly monitor their glucose levels, consume a healthy diet and get enough physical activity; all factors that impact longevity.

The researchers analyzed data of 3,341 diabetic participants taken from the Translating Research into Action for Diabetes study. More than 1,400 participants were aged 65 and older and 1,939 participants were between the ages of 18 and 64.  They found that individuals with diabetes and depression were 49 percent more likely to die prematurely compared to diabetic people who didn’t have depression. For adults over the age of 65, the correlation was even higher, at 78 percent.

This study underscores the necessity of screening for depression, especially among older adults with diabetes, and undertaking treatment for those who screen positive. Monitoring mental health is important for older adults, especially since they may experience challenges that can lead to social and emotional isolation as well as functional impairment. Social and community support can help older adults cope with many of these challenges and lead fulfilling lives. CMHA branches provide support services and referrals to seniors with mental health issues.

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