The longitudinal relationship between the use of long-term care and depressive symptoms in older adults

Anne Margriet Pot*, Dorly J.H. Deeg, Jos W.R. Twisk, Aartjan T.F. Beekman, Steven H. Zarit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: The aim of this study was to estimate the longitudinal relationship between transitions in the use of long-term care and older adults' depressive symptoms and to investigate whether this relationship could be explained by markers of older adults' underlying health, or other variables including demographics, personality, and partner status. Design and Methods: Data were from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, which consists of a random, community-based sample of 3,107 older Dutch people (55-85 years of age) stratified by age and gender. The use of informal care, professional home care, and institutional care was recorded, and respondents were screened on depressive symptoms. Follow-up measurements took place at 3 and 6 years. Results: Longitudinal analyses showed significant associations between the enduring use of professional long-term care and an increase in depressive symptoms. Transitions to professional home care or institutional care were also associated with considerably more depressive symptoms after 3 years, whereas transitions from professional home care or institutional care to no care or informal care only were not associated with a change in depressive symptoms. Most of the associations remained significant after indicators of underlying health and other covariates were adjusted for, and also after the data were reanalyzed for respondents with and without functional limitations. Implications: This study does not involve a controlled experiment of professional long-term care among older adults. However, the findings suggest the possibility that receiving professional long-term care could introduce new stressors and increase the risk of depressive symptoms. Our analyses illuminate the concerns of elders regarding their use of professional long-term care and may help in planning for more effective delivery of this type of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-369
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005

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