Little Face-to-Face Contact Doubles Risk of Depression for Older People
Maybe it’s time to visit your grandparents.
Despite the technological advances that make it easier to stay in touch, nothing beats face to face interaction, especially for older adults. That's the conclusion of a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, which found that older adults without in-person contact are at a significantly higher risk of becoming depressed.
To investigate how different methods of social interaction affected older adults, researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University analyzed data of 11,065 adults 50 years and older who were part of the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey between 2004 and 2010.
They looked at how the older adults interacted with loved ones through four forms of social contact: in person, telephone, letter, and email. They then followed up two years later to test for depression symptoms.
The results showed the older adults with little face to face contact with loved ones had double the risk of depression. But only 6.5 percent of people who had in-person contact at least three time a week had symptoms of depression, while 11.5 percent of people had signs of depression if they had in-person contact only once every few months or less.
The researchers also determined that letters, email, or telephone conversations seemed to have little, if any, effect on depression risk