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Symptoms of depression among permanent aged care residents are common, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Depression in residential aged care 2008-2012, shows that in June 2012, just over half (52%) of all permanent aged care residents had symptoms of depression, according to the Cornell Scale for Depression (CSD-a tool used as part of the Aged Care Funding Instrument, or ACFI).

About 45% of all new admissions to residential aged care between 2008 and 2012 had symptoms of depression. The proportion with symptoms rose with each successive year over this period.

'Newly-admitted residents with a CSD score indicating symptoms of depression had higher care needs, with 73% classified as high care, compared with 53% of newly-admitted residents without symptoms,' Dr Kinnear said.

The odds of newly-admitted residents with symptoms of depression having behaviours that influence care needs were more than double the odds for those without symptoms.

'Just over two-thirds of permanent aged care residents who had symptoms of depression had a confirmed medical diagnosis of depression, or were having a diagnosis sought,' Dr Kinnear said.

Women were more likely than men (69% and 64% respectively) to have been diagnosed or having a diagnosis sought.

The report is the largest analysis of depression symptom prevalence in Australian residential care facilities, and the most comprehensive analysis of ACFI data to date.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 16 October 2013

Further information: Dr Pamela Kinnear, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

Full publication: Depression in residential aged care 2008-2012