Date of Conferral
Research with geriatric populations suggests high levels of clinical depression and greater financial and psychological costs of treatment in long-term care facilities with more restrictive care. Research on learned helplessness, a construct separate from depression, suggests learned helplessness and perceived control are useful theories for the study of elder depression, but the relationship between depression and learned helplessness in this population is not clear. This cross-sectional quantitative study examined the relationship between depression and learned helplessness by comparing residents over age 65 in less restrictive assisted living (n =42) versus those in more restrictive skilled nursing facilities (n =63). Data were collected using the Geriatric Depression Scale, the Helplessness subscale of the Cognitive Distortion Scales, and the Learned Helplessness and Instrumental Helplessness subscales of the Multi-Score Depression Inventory. Between-group ANOVA results confirmed a higher level of depression and state learned helplessness, but not trait learned helplessness, in restrictive skilled nursing residents when compared to those in less restrictive assisted living residents. There were positive correlations between learned helplessness, instrumental helplessness, and depression regardless of level of nursing care, and a positive correlation between perceived control and depression regardless of level of facility care. Identifying state learned helplessness and depression in long-term, restrictive care facilities can promote positive social change through increased awareness, intervention, and treatment to improve individual quality of life and maximize internalization of perceived control of the decision making process for elders.