Physically disabled people can get lost in the world of sports and the news.
It’s easy to forget, however, that they also need to be able to get home.
So, how do we support them while still keeping their safety and well-being at the forefront of our thinking?
A new study published in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences suggests a new approach: Physical disability.
The researchers studied the mental health and wellbeing of 461 people with a physical disability in a study of the mental wellbeing of older people.
They found that people with disabilities who experienced severe mental illness were more likely to experience significant impairment in their daily lives and social interactions.
The study also showed that physical disability increased the risk of anxiety, depression and suicide attempts.
This is because the people with physical disabilities were more at risk for developing physical disabilities than the general population, said lead author Dr. John D. Stanglin, a professor of medicine and medical rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“We have a long history of focusing on mental health in older adults, but we have no idea how it affects their mental health,” he said.
“These findings could help us understand how to help these people more safely.”
The study focused on the mental and physical wellbeing of people who were 60 or older and had been diagnosed with an underlying physical condition.
Researchers found that, on average, people with an older age had poorer mental health than people with younger age.
“Physical disabilities can have significant negative consequences on people’s well-standing, and are therefore of concern to public health,” said Dr. Stange.
“Even when physical disability is associated with better outcomes for physical health, people are at higher risk for physical disability than their peers.”
The research team wanted to know if the mental state of older adults was linked to the risk for the physical disability.
They looked at data from a national database on the outcomes of physical disability from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
This included the question “Have you ever had any major depressive episode or been depressed in the past month?”
This was conducted between 2009 and 2014.
“The question of physical disabilities in older people is not a new one,” said study co-author Dr. James E. Zemel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
“It was previously not known whether physical disabilities are associated with mental health outcomes,” he added.
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01 MH056965 and R01 RR024642), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (grants R01 AG032373 and R31 AG081269) and the National Science Foundation (granting R01 NS081046).
The study is available online at http://www.annalsofnia.org/doi/abs/10.1056/NEJMoa070111.
“This is a major advance in understanding how mental health disorders affect physical disabilities, and how to treat them safely,” said Zeml.
“Understanding physical disabilities will help our physicians and researchers to better understand how mental illness affects physical disabilities and how we can reduce the risk and improve the health of older Americans.”
For more information, visit: http://dx.doi.org