Objectives: Higher levels of depression have been documented among older adults who reside in an assisted living facility, compared with those who remain in their own homes. The aims of the current study were to test whether the relationship between housing type and depressive symptoms was mediated by a sense of belonging and whether housing type and sense of belonging interact to influence the depressive symptoms among older adults (moderation model).Method: A sample of 257 older adults who lived in their own homes and 166 older adults who lived in an assisted living facility completed the psychological subscale of the Sense of Belonging Instrument and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.Results: Results showed that a sense of belonging partially mediated the relationship between housing type and depressive symptoms, such that living in a nursing home was associated with lower levels of belonging, and lower levels of belonging were, in turn, associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. Residing in an assisted living facility was associated with depressive symptoms at low and average levels of belonging.Conclusion: Results highlight the need for more research on the role of sense of belonging as an influencing factor on depressive symptoms among institutionalised older adults for both theoretical and treatment goals.
The isolation of older people is recognised as a major social problem in contemporary Western society. While the risk factors and social or health outcomes of isolation and loneliness in later life are well documented, evidence regarding the effectiveness of programmes aimed at reducing social isolation in older people remains inconclusive. This paper reports on the challenges of attempting to undertake a rigorous evaluation of three demonstration pilot projects targeting older people at risk of social isolation, conducted within different social settings in Queensland, Australia. The demonstration projects were part of the Queensland Cross-Government Project to Reduce Social Isolation in Older People (CGPRSIOP) led by the Office for Seniors within the Queensland Department of Communities. In the absence of good evaluation of programmes aimed at social isolation, this government-run programme incorporated validated psychological measures to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions. While use of these measures suggested some promising results, the focus of this paper is on the methodological and practical challenges associated with utilising evaluation measures in community-based interventions. The detailed consideration of the methodological issues involved in this programme highlights some key lessons and offers new insights into evaluating interventions for reducing social isolation.