52% permanent aged care residents show signs of depression: report

16 October, 2013

Symptoms of depression among permanent aged care residents are common, according to a report recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report "Depression in residential aged care 2008-2012" shows in June 2012, just over half (52 per cent) of all permanent aged care residents had symptoms of depression, according to the Cornell Scale for Depression (CSD-a tool used as part of the Aged Care Funding Instrument, or ACFI).

About 45 per cent of all new admissions to residential aged care between 2008 and 2012 had symptoms of depression. The proportion with symptoms rose with each successive year over this period.

"Newly-admitted residents with a CSD score indicating symptoms of depression had higher care needs, with 73 per cent classified as high care, compared with 53 per cent of newly-admitted residents without symptoms," Dr Kinnear said.

The odds of newly-admitted residents with symptoms of depression having behaviours that influence care needs were more than double the odds for those without symptoms.

"Just over two-thirds of permanent aged care residents who had symptoms of depression had a confirmed medical diagnosis of depression, or were having a diagnosis sought," Dr Kinnear said.

Women were more likely than men (69 per cent and 64 per cent respectively) to have been diagnosed or having a diagnosis sought.

The report is the largest analysis of depression symptom prevalence in Australian residential care facilities, and the most comprehensive analysis of ACFI data to date.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.