Depression in frail older adults: Associations and gender difference

North Clin Istanb. 2021 Oct 26;9(2):109-116. doi: 10.14744/nci.2021.55938. eCollection 2022.


Objective: Depression is highly prevalent in frail older adults and both clinical situations share similar clinical and prognostic factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between frailty and depression by considering each component of frailty, in both genders.

Methods: Six hundred and forty-one patients aged 60 years and older, admitted to a Geriatrics outpatient clinic in a tertiary hospital, were included in this cross-sectional study. FRIED criteria were used for defining frailty. Depression was assessed by the Geriatric depression scale (GDS). Evaluations related to disability, nutrition, and cognition were performed by the Katz/Lawton scales, mini nutritional assessment (MNA), and the mini mental state examination (MMSE), respectively.

Results: Prevalence of frailty and depression was 48.7% and 36.7%, respectively. Co-occurrence of frailty and depression was observed as 24.0%. Both in men (OR: 3.977, CI: 1.423-11.114, p=0.008) and in women (OR: 2.704, CI: 1.695-4.315, p<0.001), depression was independently associated with frailty, after adjusting with confounders regarding frailty. All FRIED criteria were significantly correlated with the higher GDS scores in women. Two FRIED criteria regarding physical activity and strength measures were not related to depressive symptoms in men. Lawon (p<0.001), MMSE (p=0.004), and MNA scores (p<0.001) were lower in patients with co-occurring frailty and depression, than both as separate conditions.

Conclusion: Depression may play a key role in the development of frailty in both genders. Albeit, depressed men seem to be at a higher risk than women for development of frailty are, physical activity and strength measures in the FRIED criteria had a high impact in women for depressive symptoms. Patients with co-occurring frailty and depression are more prone to develop geriatric syndrome related disabilities.

Keywords: Depression; elderly; frailty; fried criteria.