Social Protective Factors in Depression among the Elderly: The Role of Family, Social and Community Supports


  • Rangsima Thipprakmas Rasi Salai Hospital, Si Sa Ket Province


Geriatric depression, Social protective factors, Family supports, Social supports, Community supports


Introduction: Geriatric depression is common in Thailand, occurring in between 9.6% and 41.4% of the elderly depending on their living situation and other factors. It is associated with gender (women) and educational level, as well as pre-existing mental and physical health problems, chronic pain and illness and other factors. There are also some known protective factors for geriatric depression.

Objectives: The objective of this article is to provide a review of social protective factors in geriatric depression. The review focuses on family relationships, social connections and community supports, drawing on studies from Thailand and elsewhere.

Key Issues: Family relationships are the strongest social protective factor against geriatric depression. Elderly people with strong affective and instrumental family relationships and high levels of interaction also have a lowered risk of depression. Social connections with family and friends and social interaction outside the family also protect against depression, with elderly people with diverse social relationships and interactions including both family and friends having the lowest risk of depression. Community supports, including both integrated community healthcare programs and community social programs, can also protect against depression. 

Conclusions: Although depression is common in the elderly, social relationships and connections with family members, friends and the broader community can be a significant protection against depression. There are still some areas which are poorly understood, especially in Thailand, which could be investigated further.

Implications: Nursing professionals caring for the elderly should be aware both of the occurrence of depression in the elderly and the possible protective effect of family, social, and community interactions and relationships.

Author Biography

Rangsima Thipprakmas, Rasi Salai Hospital, Si Sa Ket Province

Medical Physician, Senior Professional Level


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