The study aims to understand the relationship between the living-alone period and depressive symptoms among the elderly in South Korea.
The study obtained data on the elderly over 65 years old from the 2006 to 2019 Korea Welfare Panel Study. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) analysis was performed to understand changes in depressive symptoms over periods of living alone. Additional subgroup analysis of age and gender was conducted to observe differences.
A total 568 (19% of the study samples) elderly transitioned from living with others into a living-alone state. Males and females showed a significant increase in depressive symptoms as they started to live alone, which gradually decreased with prolonged periods of living alone. The result of the GEE analysis demonstrated high odds of depressive symptoms during the first (OR = 1.857; 95% CI: 1.492-2.310), second (OR = 1.414; 95% CI: 1.127-1.774), and third (OR = 1.413; 95% CI: 1.105-1.808) years of living alone compared with living with others. Regarding additional subgroup analysis, the female and old-old groups showed high odds of depressive symptoms in the first 3 years of living alone, whereas the male and young-old groups showed high odds for the first year only.
The study provides valuable insights into the relationship between the living-alone period and depressive symptoms among the elderly. Future research using the living-alone period on various social factors are recommended.