Living closer to coast associated with lower risk of depression in older people, study finds

Living closer to coast associated with lower risk of depression in older people, study finds

Having a sea view in old age can lower the chances of getting depression, according to a new study.

The research conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) examined how depression risk varied within a large sample of older adults in Ireland, allowing for many factors thought to affect this risk, including coastal proximity and views.

Entitled 'Coastal blue space and depression in older adults', it sourced information from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), a nationally representative study of people aged 50 and over in Ireland, and matched it with data from the Ordnance Survey Ireland measuring how close each TILDA respondent’s house was to the coast and how extensive their sea view was.

According to the study: "Living closer to the coast was found to be associated with a lower risk of depression. In addition, those whose residence had the highest share of sea view had lower depression scores.

"However, when distance to the coast and sea view share are examined together, only the individuals in the highest category for share of coastal views show a significantly lower risk of depression than those with no views.

The scale of the association between visual blue space exposure and reduced depression risk is large.

This study is the first to consider the separate effects of proximity to the coast and coastal sea views on mental health outcomes and found that a view had a positive effect even when other factors that might be associated with lower depression risk - such as age, gender, socio-economic status, use of medication and social engagement - had been taken into account.

According to the report: "These findings are supportive of the view that the main way in which blue space benefits mental health among the older population is via the visual aspect, rather than proximity.

"However, the nature of our data means we cannot be certain that blue space is causing a reduction in depression risk: only that the association between them is consistent with the possibility of a beneficial effect.

Anne Nolan of the ESRI said: “These findings underlie the public health benefits of policies to protect and enhance coastal blue spaces, and suggest that urban planning should take these benefits into account.”

Meanwhile, a separate report also published today showed that just one-in-two people feel financially prepared for retirement.

The November edition of the Bank of Ireland/ESRI Savings and Investment Index showed a fading in 'retirement optimism', with 49% of respondents stating they feel financially unprepared for retirement.

It is the highest reading since the question was first asked in September 2017.

Tom McCabe of Bank of Ireland Investment Markets said: "The drop in confidence around retirement provision is significant and just half of respondents feel financially prepared for retirement.

With people living longer adequate pension provision is more challenging than ever, and some concern clearly emerged in November.

The same report also showed that saving sentiment was stable but attitudes towards saving hit an eight-month low.


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