In the Framework of the ICT4Life project, Pecs Centre completed a questionnaire survey research focusing on the quality of life (QoL) in elderly population. A total of 60 elderly people participated in the survey using a semi-structured interview assessing quality of life, comorbid disorders, medications, etc. Elderly showed great interest and enthusiasm towards the study.
From our preliminary results, we emphasize that elderly people have suffered from multiple physical illnesses, with more than 10 comorbid somatic diseases occurring in one quarter of men. The most common diseases were hypertension, rheumatic problems and cardio-vascular disorders (heart diseases and arteriosclerosis). Psychiatric disorders occurred in nearly half of men, while in one third of women. The most common mental disorders were depression, dementia and addictions. The participants have used a wide variety of medications (averaging six) due to their multiple comorbidities. More than half of the elderly have taken psychotropic drugs (mostly benzodiazepines and antidepressants) and painkillers, while only a few have had prescribed medications for dementia.
The results of the cognitive tests revealed that cognitive decline was significant in our sample of elderly people. In more than half of the patients has reached the level of dementia. Depression scales indicated a high proportion of depressive symptoms as well: more than quarter of the elderly have suffered from moderate or severe depression. The frequent comorbidity of dementia and depression has also been proven. One third of the elderly were free of cognitive and mood symptoms, eighth of them suffered from depression only, quarter from dementia only, and nearly 30% of them had both cognitive decline and depressive symptoms.
The preliminary results of our study demonstrated that general comorbidities were common among the elderly, as somatic comorbidities and mental disorders were also very high. However, the applied tests have also shown that cognitive decline reaching dementia was more than four times, and depression was more than two and a half times more frequent than that was diagnosed and treated. Our data thus call attention to the importance of under-diagnosed and under-treated dementia and depression. It appears that these two major age-related mental disorders are commonly encountered, and this may be additional difficulty in establishing accurate diagnosis and planning adequate treatment.
Our results have confirmed that the early detection and management of cognitive and emotional symptoms are of paramount importance in improving the quality of life of the elderly. In this, the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and methods involves a number of promising opportunities.
University of Pécs, Hungary
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