Social activity and effects on depression in the elderly: a systemised review of the lived experiences of community dwelling older adults.

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Social activity and effects on depression in the elderly: a systemised review of the lived experiences of community dwelling older adults.

Category: Communication

Subcategory: Dissertation introduction

Level: University

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Social Activity and Effects on Depression in the Elderly: A Systemized Review of the Lived Experiences of Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Social activity can either be formal or informal depending on the level of intimacy and intensity (Lee and Kim 2014). Formal activity is the one in which an individual gets involved through formal organizations where there are specific common objectives, and individuals work towards achieving these objectives. On the other hand, informal activity is casual and involves interaction with friends, family, and neighbors (Lee and Kim 2014). The latter is mainly linked to emotional function and is based on a kinship model and one’s role in the family. Evidence indicates that these social activities have an effect on mental health, morale, survival during old age, and satisfaction with one’s life (Jeon et al. 2013). However, like most of the prevailing research, Jeon’s et al. (2013) study was quantitative while the current study’s focus is on qualitative research.

Depression tends to affect individuals’ quality of life due to health impairment that is typical of old age. Whereas there is evidence to support the positive effect of social activity on depression, there is no evidence that shows which social activity is superior to the rest (Lee and Kim 2014). Individual studies tend to indicate the positive effect of social activity, but the case is not the same with systematic reviews which indicate mixed results like in the case of Robins, Jansons, and Haines (2016). These individual studies are mainly based on structured research instruments, yet Wittink et al. (2009) and Mura and Carta (2013) indicate that accurate information in reference to mental health is obtained through unstructured research instruments where the elderly are involved. Hence, the interest in qualitative research is further justified.
A qualitative study by Kharicha et al. (2017) sought to understand the views of the elderly regarding community-based interventions in relation to loneliness. This study is relevant because loneliness is associated with depression; hence, by addressing loneliness, then depression would be tackled as well. Community-based interventions ranged from one-on-one activities to group activities. This study showed that the elderly do not have a positive perception of befriending schemes that involve talking to a stranger, and this was explained by incompatibility in personality and lack of motivation. However, future studies can focus on having a room-mate or one’s relative visiting him or her daily for some hours. On the contrary, the individuals showed a high affinity for social activities, but these were not deemed to reduce the feeling of being lonely; hence, its effect on depression is not resolved (Kharicha et al., 2017). This study, therefore, does not guarantee that positive effects are derived from the social activity. Nonetheless, the search for specific social activities that have a positive effect on depression and associated loneliness and social isolation is justified.
Kharicha et al. (2017) and Robins, Jansons, and Haines (2016) indicate that group-based activities are a great preference among the elderly, but there is no indication that they produce positive effects. In reference to Wittink et al. (2013) as indicated below, social activity tends to have a mediating role but on its own, is not shown to produce positive benefits (Robins, Jansons, and Haines 2016). However, this evidence is inconclusive, and there is need to collate more evidence and provide more solid evidence on this topic.
A qualitative study by Jancey et al. (2009) can be used to understand the mixed results of exercise. This study’s results indicate that older individuals tend to suffer from episodes of pain due to physical activity irrespective of the fact that this physical activity is within a social context. As a result, they tend to withdraw from such activities over time despite the fact that they are aware of the benefits derived from such activities. This revelation is important for an occupational therapist because all the literature herein indicates that it is not just a matter of taking part in social activity; rather, it is what motivates and demotivates them from taking part in such activities. Also, whether such activities are able to address all their social needs as proposed by Kharicha et al. (2013). A systematic review by Chen and Schulz (2016) sought to determine social isolation in the light of information technology, which is considered to foster social engagement while still indoors. This review seems to be the only one of its kind to examine the effects of technology in relation to socialization, but it does not indicate whether individuals stop being lonely after engaging with the web-based interaction platforms like social networking apps and video conferencing.
Religiosity is another social activity, which is perceived differently in different populations based on a people’s cultural beliefs and values. The African American population perceive religion as a pillar that enables them to courageously confront problems that have a negative effect on their mental health. Religion has a component of social support through which individuals engage with others and in various religious activities. The study by Wittink et al. (2009) was conducted among the African Americans, and it showed that religion has a positive effect on depression among the elderly because it promotes engagement in life and a spiritual individual regards religion as an enhancement to biomedical treatments. Therefore, such an individual is likely to adhere to treatment as long as physicians integrate this spiritual component into biomedical treatment. Unfortunately, this study does not indicate whether individuals remain religious throughout until they overcome their depression or whether there are some of them who stop taking part in this activity. Again, there is need to know the nature of population to which this social activity yields a positive effect.
Older people tend to be lonely compared to people of other ages, and especially single women (Stojanovic et al. 2017). Loneliness tends to be aggravated by other factors, such as living arrangements and social relationships, socioeconomic status, and mental health. Prompted by previous studies that showed significant effects of social relationships on mortality, Stojanovic et al. (2017) conducted a systematic review to conduct an activity that aimed at establishing effective interventions to reduce social isolation and loneliness among the elderly. Based on Stojanovic’s et al. (2017) review, evidence in this area is still insufficient, and there is a call for better studies to ascertain effective social activities among the elderly, and especially those with depression.
In view of the fact that evidence on this topic is inconclusive, trying to find the relationship between social activity and depression remains a topic of interest (Merema 2014). This current study strives to increase knowledge in this field by targeting the community-dwelling elderly, who have not been studied adequately. Also, most of the reviews have focused on social activity in relation to social isolation which is intertwined with loneliness, which is linked to depression (Kharicha et al. 2017). Thereby, there is need to collate evidence that is more specific in reference to the population and intervention, which is the goal of this study. Mura and Carta (2013) are categorical about the fact that structured research instruments are not as effective as unstructured ones when trying to obtain information related to depression due to the associated stigma; hence, the adoption of a qualitative research approach is further justified.

Chen, Y.-R. R., and Schulz, P. J. (2016) “The Effect of Information Communication Technology Interventions on Reducing Social Isolation in the Elderly: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Medical Internet Research 18 (1), e18. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.4596
Jancey, J. M., Clarke, A., Howat, P., Maycock, B., and Lee, A. H. (2009) “Perceptions of physical activity by older adults: A qualitative study.” Health Education Journal 68 (3), 196-206.
Jeon, G. S., Jang, S. N., Kim, D. S., and Cho, S. I. (2013) “Widowhood and depressive symptoms among Korean elders: the role of social ties.” The Journal of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 68 (6), 963–73.
Kharicha, K., Iliffe, S., Manthorpe, J., Chew-Graham, C. A., Cattan, M., Goodman, C., Kirby-Barr, M., Whitehouse, J. H., and Walters, K. (2017) “What do older people experiencing loneliness think about primary care or community based interventions to reduce loneliness? A qualitative study in England.” Health and Social Care in the Community 25 (6), 1733-1742.
Lee, S. H., and Kim, Y. B. (2014) “Which Type of Social Activities Decrease Depression in the Elderly? An Analysis of a Population-Based Study in South Korea.” Iranian Journal of Public Health, 43 (7), 903–912.
Merema, M. R. (2014) “An update on social activity and depression in the elderly: A brief review of recent findings and key issues.” Healthy Aging & Clinical Care in the Elderly 6, 11–15. DOI: 10.4137/H CC .S12499.
Mura, G., and Carta, M. G. (2013) “Physical Activity in Depressed Elderly. A Systematic Review.” Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health : CP & EMH 9, 125–135.
Robins, L. M., Jansons, P., and Haines, T. (2016) “The impact of physical activity interventions on social isolation among community dwelling older adults: A systematic review.” Research & Reviews: Journal of Nursing & Health Sciences 2 (1), 62-71.
Stojanovic, J., Collamati, A., Mariusz, D., Onder, G., La Milia, D. I., Ricciardi, W., Moscato, U., Magnavita, N., and Poscia, A. (2017) “Decreasing loneliness and social isolation among the older people: Systematic search and narrative review.” Epidemiology Biostatistics and Public Health 14(2), e12408. DOI: 10.2427/12408
Wittink, M. N., Joo, J. H., Lewis, L. M., and Barg, F. K. (2009) “Losing Faith and Using Faith: Older African Americans Discuss Spirituality, Religious Activities, and Depression.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 24 (3), 402–407.

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