Background.The human population is getting older and the need for health care especially tailored for the very old will increase. The prevalence of depressive disorders among patients in nursing homes is estimated to 32 % compared to 13 % in the general population over 60 years of age. A study on how an activity programme could affect nursing home residents’ physical functioning and well-being was designed. We added a depression rating scale to see how physical activity could affect depressive symptomatology, since physical activity is known to be effective in depressions in other age groups.
Material and methods.A randomised controlled trial was carried out with 56 residents from six nursing homes. They were randomised to either an intervention or a control group. The intervention consisted of an individually tailored programme including extra physical activity with physical therapist, occupational therapist and “extra” activities on the ward. Age, gender and length of stay in the nursing home were recorded for each patient at baseline. Further, they were evaluated with Montgomery Aasberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), the Berg scale, Swedish translation of the Clinical Outcome Variables (S-COVS), Mini Mental Status Examination (MMS) and Philadelphia Geriatric Centre Morale Scale at baseline and after three months.
Results.The patients of the intervention group improved significantly regarding their physical ability as measured by the Berg scale. The score on MADRS also dropped more in the intervention group compared with the control group, but this difference was not of statistical significance.
Discussion and Conclusion.Balance function was significantly improved after three months of activity, and we saw a tendency that patients improved regarding depressive symptoms. However, several factors could have influenced the results of the present study such as selection bias, a too large test manual, a high drop out rate and too few participants. More research is important in this interesting and important field.