A study presented during the last congress of the Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (semFYC), held in Zaragoza, reveals that up to 20% of people over 80 show apathy, the most frequent depressive symptom.
According to Dr. Miguel Ángel Martínez Adell, coordinator of the Wholesale Care Group of semFYC, this type of disorder is usually underdiagnosed since "if the old man lives alone at home, in residences, or accompanied by the couple of the same age, and also has several diseases, it is easier for apathy to live with him".
"It is difficult to diagnose it in older people," says this expert, since "they are not aware of having this disorder, and the first thing to do is to think that they can have it and, if so, treat it, because there are solutions" .
Another study conducted in urban health centers in Catalonia, with a sample of more than 600 people, has also shown that 20.5% of the elderly had suffered at least one fall in the last 6 months, 6.3% had risk of malnutrition and 22% of depression.
Dependence in the elderly is "a problem more social than medical"
The conclusion of the study indicates that one third of this population presented social risk, which makes them more vulnerable and increases the risk of the appearance of physical and psychic disorders, hence the need to establish social intervention strategies that contribute to improve the health and social integration of the elderly population.
For Dr. Adell, dependence on the elderly is "a social rather than a medical problem", and he regrets that patients with high physical and mental dependencies "demand a lot of resources that we can not offer now." It is a health, social and family problem, to which we will have to contribute all ".