Effects of depressive symptoms on health behavior practices among older adults with vision loss.

OBJECTIVE: The authors examined the interface between visual impairment and depressive symptoms on health behaviors, self-care, and social participation among adults ages 65 and older.

METHOD: The authors analyzed data from the 1997-2004 National Health Interview Survey on visual impairment and depressive symptoms for 49,278 adults ages 65 and older, comparing visually impaired adults (n = 8,787) with and without depressive symptoms with a reference group of adults with neither condition (n = 3,136) for outcome measures: physical health, health behaviors, and difficulties with self-care and social participation.

RESULTS: Adults with visual impairment and severe depressive symptoms were more likely than adults with neither condition to smoke (14.9%, adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.6), be obese (28.2%, AOR = 1.9), be physically inactive (80.5%, AOR = 3.0), have fair-poor health (76.0%, AOR = 26.5), and have difficulties with self-care (27.9%, AOR = 11.8) and social participation (52.1%, AOR = 10.9).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Older visually impaired adults with depressive symptoms are vulnerable to health decline and further disablement without timely interventions that target smoking cessation, healthy eating, and increased physical activity.