Keywords: older adults, remote mountain living, demographic, socio-economic traits, health related quality of life
Older adults living in remote areas often face significant difficulties due to geographic distance, difficult accessibility and depopulation. Social isolation, loneliness, economic and territorial issues affect negatively their life in many ways.
We aimed to describe some of the demographic, socio-economic and health related traits of the life of older adults in Greek rural remote mountain regions.
Observational descriptive study based on personal interviews, structured in 3 main modules: demographic characteristics, health related quality of life (EQ VAS and EQ-5D) and mental health (PHQ-9 Greek).
A randomly selected group of 30 older adults were interviewed in 3 remote mountain villages (approximate distance to nearest PHC Unit 50km/2,5 hours, often inaccessible during wintertime). Most of the adults were 75-85 years old (age range 65-95 and older). Most of the residents were living alone or with spouse only, distanced from other family members, 16/30 declared monthly income 300-500€, 29/30 suffering from at least one chronic disease. Health related quality of life was described by using the Euro-QoL EQ-5D instrument. The majority of participants declared none/slight problems with self-care, usual activities, moderate/severe problems with mobility, pain/discomfort, slight/moderate problems with anxiety/depression. Implementing PHQ-9 Greek we detected 16/30 participants with undiagnosed mild depression. Participants’ self-estimation of health based on the EQ VAS (vertical visual analogue scale) ranged from 40 to 70 (endpoints 1-100).
As our findings reveal, the interviewed older adults have generally accepted the difficulties of remote living and perceive themselves as well adapted to those. However, detecting undiagnosed depression appears be a significant evidence, suggesting unperceived or denied challenging dimensions of remote living, needed to be addressed and monitored. Therefore, appropriate training on early diagnosis of depression is crucial in maintaining good quality of life for remote living older people.
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