Depression, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation among the elderly: A comparison between men and women living in nursing homes and in the community

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This study attempts to compare levels of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation among elderly males and females, in reference to their living arrangement, i.e., community vs. nursing homes. For many elderly people, old age is characterized by various losses: physiological, functional, social, cognitive, financial, etc. The outcomes of such losses often include, more often than not, environmental isolation, a subjective feeling of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and frequently, loss of motivation to continue living. In light of the rise in life expectancy and the multitude of losses which can be associated with the aging process, it is probable that one out of five elderly persons will spend part of his/her life in a long term care institute. Such living arrangements may have negative effects on the mental health of its residents, because placement is often accompanied by feelings of lack of control over one's own life, and inability to make decisions regarding daily issues. Elderly persons living in the community (227: 78 men, 149 women) and 91 living in nursing homes (33 men, 58 women), in both independent and frail functional status (ADL), participated in the study. Findings show significantly more hopelessness, helplessness, and depression among residents of nursing homes compared to those living in the community, differences between men and women living in both environments, and a correlation between other demographic variables and the three dependent variables of the study. The conclusions of the study indicate a need to pay interdisciplinary attention to the mental health of elderly residents of nursing homes, particularly in the preliminary stages of placement and adjustment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 14 Sep 2004


  • Anxiety
  • Community
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Environmental isolation
  • Gender
  • Hopelessness
  • Loneliness
  • Losses
  • Nursing home
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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