The geriatric population in the country is increasing rapidly and therefore there is a need to study more and understand about the quality of life and prevalence of depression among the elderly especially in the context of retirement where not much focus have been attributed Working individuals come to a point where they have to leave their work and transition to a new way of life. Palmore (1971) also stated that there are many good reasons for retirement and some of the key reasons according to him are freedom form one’s work, the freedom of leisure to do the things that the person had longed to do such as traveling the world, pursuing his hobby, being involved for service in the community or simply just taking things easy. Additionally, Retirement offers the benefit of enabling additional time and vitality to go through with relatives.
The example of resigned grandparents filling in as sitters is just the most widely recognized. Retirees can utilize their time to invest more of their time with their adult children, far off relatives, resigned kin and companions (Hartman, 2017).
However, various studies show that with retirement the quality of life of an individual deteriorates and also depression becomes prevalent after retirement. The Institute of Economic Affairs, United Kingdom also suggested that at first retirement may benefit the health of an individual by reducing stress and allow the individual to engage for other activities, but as time goes retirement may have adverse effects. The study also founded that retirement hikes the chances of a person of suffering from clinical depression by around 40%, and the person may have at least one diagnosed physical illness by 60% (BBC, 2013).
According to a Sociological Study on Retired Government Employees conducted in the Shimoga district of Karnataka by Kumar & Chandrashekhar (2013) it was found that 76.08% reported having a reduced status in the family after retirement and only 8.20% perceived an improvement of status within the family.
A study was conducted in the Urban and Semi Urban areas of Shillong with the objective of looking at the Quality of Life and Prevalence of depression among the retired. A quantitative research design was adopted for the study and a sample size of 85 retired individuals 58 years and above was taken as the study population and were assessed using the “Older people Quality of life Questionnaire” and the “Geriatric Depression scale” (Short form).
In the Quality of life the domains of Physical Health, Life overall, social relationships, Independence, control over life, Home and neighborhood, Psychological and emotional wellbeing, financial circumstances and leisure and activities were being assessed. As per the study it was found that Quality of life among the retired elderly in Shillong is high but certain limitations are there in financial circumstances where the retirees although they can pay household bills and make household repairs and help other help needed in the family they cannot afford to buy what they want and do the things they would enjoy. The above findings however differ to what Diengdoh (2014) found in her study 59% of gazetted retirees and 77% of non gazetted retirees stated to have financial difficulties especially in fulfilling their responsibilities as a parent with respect to renovation, marriage and education of children as well as payment of loans.
In the domain of social relationships it was found that the retirees would like to have more contact with other people and also more people to enjoy life with and this can clearly be understood that contact with other people have been cut short due to the transition in to retirement.
With regards to depression it was found that Mild and moderate depression does exist among some of the retired elderly but only to a minimal number of respondents. As per the scale scores it was found that 16% of the respondents exhibited mild depression and only 5% showed moderate depression. This can be seen in the areas of Dropping of interest where the percentage of female was higher, Fear of something bad, boredom and a minimal number of respondents indicated the feeling of helplessness.
A study in Karachi Pakistan also showed similar findings whereby elderly citizens 60 years and above were taken as study populations and findings indicated that time spent in physical activities was higher in men than women. The study also further found that those who spend more time on physical activities (Walking, exercising, shopping, meeting friends & carrying weights) were 60% less likely to be depressed (Bhamanai, Khan, Karim & Mir, 2015).
Furthermore, it was found that there was a negative correlation between depression and quality of life Pearson’s r (-0.265) and the finding was also found to be statistically significant (p=0.01). Although the research was able to establish findings that quality of life in the retirees was high and also identified the lacking areas a more in depth study is required in order to understand what reasons are contributing to it. At the same time, although the research was able to examine the prevalence of depression and conclude that mild and moderate depression exist in some of the retirees as well as indentify the feelings of boredom, dropping of interest, fear that something bad will happen and also helplessness found in some of the retirees. However, a much detailed study is encouraged so as to be able to strongly associate the former mentioned with depression.
The writer is a student pursuing his Master’s degree in Social Work and his work on this piece has been supervised by Dr Ardonister Lyngdoh (Assistant professor MLCU).