Even with limitations, the elderly have a good qualiy of life in Ribeirão Preto, Sao Paulo Brazil

A research study by Thais Ramos Pereira Vendruscolo, a nurse at the Nursing School of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo ( USP ), concluded that the elderly, in general, are living well.  According to the survey, older people reported living with some health problems, but that does not stop them from performing everyday activities.

Thais interviewed 240 men and women over age 60 in 2011, in the city of Ribeirão Preto ( SP ) . The survey resulted in dissertation, defended in 2013, entitled “Quality of life, functional independence and depressive symptoms in older people living at home,” and was supervised by professor Rosalina Rodrigues.

The average age of respondents was 73.2 years. They were primarily women with one to four years of schooling. They lived with a spouse, in most cases, and had five or more illnesses. The most prevalent was hypertension, followed by spinal problems, vascular disease, poor vision and hearing loss. Most were between completely and “modified” independent. “Modified” means the elderly need help walking, eating or using the bathroom.

Data was collected by using sociodemographic questions to characterize the elderly, presence of comorbidities, Mini - Mental State Examination( MMSE ), Functional Independence Measure ( FIM/MIF ), Old Whoqol , WHOQOL Bref and Depression Scale geriatric ( EDG ). The elderly male and female patients had similar performance in MIF and younger elderly performed better in total FIM compared to the older seniors.

Depressive symptoms were more prevalent in males ( 38.2 %) in the older subjects ( 44.6 % ) and among those who do not have a partner ( 37.1 % ). The highest mean score of QOL(Quality of life) was found in the intimacy realm (68.93 ) and the lowest mean score in the physical domain ( 60.62 ) .  Seniors who had depressive symptoms had higher mean score in the social domain (61,07) and lower mean score in the physical domain ( 50,21 ) . Women had higher mean QOL scores for most categories, being significantly higher only in the category of death and dying.

Regarding age, the younger elderly had mean QOL scores greater than older subjects in most areas and categories, being significantly higher in the physical domain and categories of autonomy and social participation. The presence of seniors with companions had similar mean scores for QOL domains and categories, and significantly higher in intimacy compared to those who do not have a partner.

This study, according to the researcher, aims to promote knowledge about the quality of life of older people to establish public policies to promote health benefits for the elderly, through the action of multidisciplinary health teams.

Men suffer more from depression

Some elderly males, according Thais, have chronic diseases and history of disability. She explains that the disabilities are physical, psychological and social.  These men often don’t participate in work and other social events, which may increase the risk of depressive symptoms, affecting even the family of the elderly who loses autonomy. The study found that, while growing older, people often fail to engage in social and physical activities, which can lead to loneliness, sadness and mood changes which can impact their health.

Based on this data, Thais states that “Strategies should be established for the development of healthy actions for this population, so that the quality of life of the elderly improves.” But despite these difficulties, the research was able to demonstrate that regarding quality of life, many report living well and, in most cases, the health-related problems do not prevent seniors from performing daily tasks - which keep them involved and participating in society.