Why technology — not medication — is the future of treating older adults with depression (McKnight’s Long-term Care News):
“The go-to treatment for many cases of depression is medication.
Unfortunately, this treatment option can cause as many issues as the problem it is trying to solve. Antidepressants can put residents at greater risk of falls, negative health complications and other poor conditions. Some studies indicate that antidepressants may not be effective for most older Americans.
Medication adherence is another significant challenge. According to a study by Topolovec-Vranic, et al., “individuals with depression are … three times less compliant in the adherence to medical regimens in chronic illness compared to those without depression” …
These days, many long-term care communities are utilizing engagement technology as a more creative and connected approach to caring for residents with depression, especially those with memory loss or cognitive decline…Computers, tablets or smartboards with touchscreen versatility and adaptive devices for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. These devices are loaded with picture-based interfaces to launch senior-friendly applications with continually updated content for brain fitness, education, virtual travel, spirituality, music, games, trivia, exercise and specialized dementia programming. They offer family communication tools including webcams for video chat and user-friendly email.
A study in the Journals of Gerontology found that Internet use among retired older adults reduces the probability of depression by 33 percent. Other studies found that engaging with computer technology can be playing certain computer games as just as effective — if not more — reducing symptoms of depression as antidepressants. Executive function — those mental skills required for planning and organizing behavior — also improved.”
Study: Fighting Isolation With Technology (LeadingAge)
- Summary: It’s well documented that social isolation can lead to depression, decreased quality of life and other related issues for older adults. Today’s ever-more-sophisticated communications technologies can go a long way toward alleviating isolation and boosting well-being.
News in Context
- Reinventing Brain Medicine, Pharma adopts Digital Therapeutics
- Study shows how online mindfulness interventions can reduce work-related rumination and fatigue, and improve sleep quality
- Should Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (not antidepressant drugs) be the first-line treatment for depression?
- Next: Harnessing information and communications technology (ICT) to address mental health challenges affecting 700 million people today