Changes in Depression and Stress of the Middle-Aged and Elderly through Participation in a Forest Therapy Program for Dementia Prevention
Journal of people, plants, and environment
Various health and social issues related to the elderly are emerging in line with the rapid aging of the population. In particular, dementia currently has a prevalence of about 10 percent of the elderly population in South Korea, which increases financial and social burdens to not only individual patients but also their caring family. To assess the effects of participating in the forest therapy programs for dementia prevention, this study recruited participants aged 50 and above and tested
... ove and tested their depression (Korean form of Geriatric Depression Scale; KGDS) and stress response (Modified form of Stress Response Inventory; SRI-MF), which are emotional aspects of dementia. As a result, KGDS showed a significant decrease of 3.2 points from 8.4 to 5.2 points, and SRI-MF showed a significant decrease of 7.2 points from 40 to 32.8 points, indicating a statistically significant improvement in both. In addition, participants with minor depression and high level of stress in the pretest showed statistically significant improvements in the SRI-MF for men, and the KGDS and SRI-MF for women. Furthermore, there were statistically significant improvements in KGDS for participants in their 60s and in SRI-MF for those in their 70s in terms of age, and in both KGDS and SRI-MF for participants with chronic diseases and in KGDS for participants without chronic diseases. This study confirmed the effects of forest therapy on the prevention of the emotional aspects of dementia and laid the groundwork for increasing the applicability of forest therapy by obtaining a place for dementia prevention as a field of forest therapy.