Elderly people living in rural areas likely to have better mental well-being: Study

Washington D.C. [USA], May 6 (ANI): A study shows that there is a link between the mental well-being among the elderly people and the environment they are living in, be it rural or urban.

The mental well-being of the elderly refers to how they perceive their everyday existence, i.e., if their outlook is positive or negative, which, in turn, makes their life pleasant or unpleasant.

A study by researchers at the University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University focused on the association between the main variables related to the satisfactory mental well-being of the elderly and the rural or urban characteristics of the environment in which they live.

The study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

"The perception that older people living in rural areas have with regard to the limitations of health and aging is associated with less deterioration of mental well-being while living in urban areas is related with an increased risk of suffering emotional problems attributable to economic difficulties or a low level of education", said the authors, who argue that encouraging older people to live in rural areas could lead to greater well-being in later life.

The research was carried out by taking cross-sectional microdata between 2015 and 2017 from the Health Survey of Catalonia (ESCA), an official survey administered to the entire population residing in Catalonia, which is conducted continuously throughout the year.

The sample, which is representative of the overall population, included 2,621 individuals (1,219 men and 1,402 women) aged 65 and over living in municipalities classified as rural, semi-urban, and urban.

For the study, the participants responded t the questionnaire, providing information on the health and lifestyles of individuals in relation to a wide range of socio-demographic factors.

The study sought to identify factors that may influence the mental well-being of older people in the study area.

It also assesses the extent to which the rurality of the municipality of origin is associated with significantly different values within the scale of mental well-being, and whether the magnitude of this association depends on aspects related to the individual's socio-demographic, health and lifestyle characteristics.

Some of the risk factors identified by the authors are demographic factors, economic status, self-perceived health, physical health burden, functional limitations and dependence, social support, family burden, physical activity, and sleep hours.

"Variables related to health status, personal autonomy and social support appear to be strongly associated with mental well-being", the researchers affirmed.

The results show that a higher level of rurality is associated with a better level of mental well-being. (ANI)