Political Science

Second Major



Leedahl, Skyee

Advisor Department

Human Development and Family Studies




depression; nursing homes; older adults; home and community based services


With the population of the United States slowly growing older, the issues surrounding long-term services and supports (LTSS) will become more prevalent. Little research has been done comparing older adults living in nursing homes to older adults living in the community, especially regarding mental health and depression. Depression is a mental illness that affects people emotionally and physically, as well as mentally, which can lead easily into other health complications in the older adult population. This study seeks to determine if factors such as demographics, health, social interaction, and family relationships affect mental health in nursing home residents differently than older adults in the community. For this study I have used the 2010 University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study (HRS) Data. The HRS is a longitudinal panel study that surveys a representative sample of approximately 20,000 Americans over the age of 50 every two years. My independent variables include gender, race, age, poverty status, and marital status in the demographic category. The independent variables in the health category are: experience with pain, number of chronic conditions, number of activities of daily living (ADLs), and cognitive health status. Finally, in the social interaction category this study uses driving status, volunteer status, and number of grandchildren. With the HRS data, I have used SPSS (statistical analysis software) to analyze the data. These include independent samples t-test, chi-Square, and bivariate regression analyses to compare the differences between nursing home and community residents. With these findings, I hope to inform policy makers, people working in the public health sector, and LTSS workers about the differences in mental health between older adults in the community in comparison to nursing homes so that they may better develop plans and policies for treatment.