20% of over-50s have experienced depression

ONE in five people aged 50 and older in Ireland have experienced depression but only 11% have been treated for the condition by a health professional, an expert on ageing revealed yesterday.

The findings are from Ireland’s most comprehensive study on ageing — the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing to be published in April.

More than 8,000 people, aged 50 and older have participated in the study led by Rose Anne Kenny, professor of clinical gerontology at Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Kenny spoke at the launch of the first Third Age annual conference in Dublin.

Third Age promotes the value of older people in communities.

Prof Kenny said that those who admitted suffering from depression had seen a health professional at least once in the last year.

The study also found that one in four people over the age of 50 suffer from urinary incontinence frequently, or quite frequently. While 60% of men had sought help from a health professional, 20% of women had never discussed the issue.

Prof Kenny said she hoped the study would help raise awareness of issues affecting older people so that Ireland could become a better place to grow old in.

“If we are a community that is better for people to age in, then it will be a better place for everybody,” she said.

By 2036 one in five Irish people will be over 65 years of age, with the greatest increase being in those over 80 years of age.

“Ageing on this scale is unparalleled in Irish history and will have significant consequences for Ireland’s economy and society,” said Prof Kenny.

Former Taoiseach, Dr Garret FitzGerald, also a guest speaker, admitted he was partly responsible for reducing the retirement age from 70 to 65 in1973.

“There is no reason why people should not continue to work longer. And they should, otherwise the system will break down because there will be insufficient resources to look after people when they need it later on,” he said.

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