Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form)

Are you dealing with a depressed geriatric patient? Assess the severity of their depression using this Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form) and determine what you can do to help them work through it!

By Matt Olivares on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is a Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form)?

A lot of things come with age. Memories of good times and the bad, a longing for simpler and younger days, satisfaction and regret, wisdom, and weakness.

As a person grows older, it is not surprising if they become depressed. Depending on their circumstances in life and the kind of life they lived, they may become depressed.

Did they do what they set out to do with their life, or did they sacrifice their dreams and now regret not pursuing what they wanted?

Were they surrounded by people and maintained their relationships up to this day, or did they make decisions that turned people away/burned bridges, and now they wish they could go back?

Are they still as spritely as they once were, or are they now unable to do the things that they used to do because they are weaker and unable to move well?

To be able to get answers to these questions from geriatric patients, the Geriatric Depression Scale was created. This scale serves as a tool to determine if a geriatric patient is experiencing depression and to assess its severity. It comes in the form of a simple Yes or No questionnaire and is composed of questions about their mood, if they are able to do the things that they like doing or if they are unable to, if they feel helpless, and a whole lot more.

There are two versions of the Geriatric Depression Scale: the short form and the long form. For this guide, we will be focusing on the long-form version.

Printable Geriatric Depression Scale

Download this Geriatric Depression Scale to assess depression symptoms in your geriatric patients.

How to use the Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form)

Instruct the geriatric patient to answer the questionnaire.

The Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form) has thirty questions and the only thing that your geriatric patient needs to do is to answer Yes or No based on how they felt for the past week.

Here are the following questions they need to answer:

  • Are you basically satisfied with your life?
  • Have you dropped many of your activities and interests?
  • Do you feel that your life is empty?
  • Do you often get bored?
  • Are you hopeful about the future?
  • Are you bothered by thoughts you can t get out of your head?
  • Are you in good spirits most of the time?
  • Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you?
  • Do you feel happy most of the time?
  • Do you often feel helpless?
  • Do you often get restless and fidgety?
  • Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things?
  • Do you frequently worry about the future?
  • Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?
  • Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now?
  • Do you often feel downhearted and blue?
  • Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now?
  • Do you worry a lot about the past?
  • Do you find life very exciting?
  • Is it hard for you to get started on new projects?
  • Do you feel full of energy?
  • Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?
  • Do you think that most people are better off than you are?
  • Do you frequently get upset over little things?
  • Do you frequently feel like crying?
  • Do you have trouble concentrating?
  • Do you enjoy getting up in the morning?
  • Do you prefer to avoid social gatherings?
  • Is it easy for you to make decisions?
  • Is your mind as clear as it used to be?

As you know, depression and its causes are sensitive subjects for anyone to discuss. When you issue this to your patient, make sure to give them the time and space they need. These questions will make them reflect on themselves and you shouldn’t be surprised if they feel uncomfortable or have a difficult time answering it despite being a simple Yes or No questionnaire. As such, it’s best to come to an agreement as to when they can hand you a fully-accomplished questionnaire. Of course, if they agree to answer it on the spot, that would be great but don’t force it.

Tally the scores

Each item will either score a 0 or 1, depending on the answer. To make things easy for you, we added a small modification to the long-form Geriatric Depression Scale – the points assigned to each Yes or No answer.

All you need to do when it comes to engaging with this questionnaire is tally the score and check which depression severity level your geriatric patient falls under.

Score Ranges

Determine what goes into your care plan.

Once you have finished tallying the scores and have seen which severity level your geriatric patient falls on, you can now work on creating a care plan. One thing that you should do as you go about making it is focus on particular answers and get them to elaborate on why they chose these answers. The information you could get from them in relation to the total score and their designation should help you determine what goes into their care plan.

Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form) Example

Now that you know what engaging with the long-form scale is like, it’s time to see what it looks like. Here is a filled-out Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form) sample.

Download this Geriatric Depression Scale Example (Sample) here:

Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form) Example

If you like what you see and think it’ll be beneficial for your work, you may download a free and printable long-form Geriatric Depression Scale PDF.

When would it be best for me to use the Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form)?

If you suspect that your geriatric patient might be experiencing depression, it’s best to issue this immediately. The earlier, the better, so you can help curb the possible detrimental effects it’ll have on them before they get worse.

Of course, talking about how they feel, especially at their age, will likely be difficult. They might even have a hard time answering the scale given the context, so having them do it on the spot might not always be the best choice. If they are not willing to do it on the spot, give them the time and space they need to accomplish it. Just come to an agreement as to when they should submit a fully-accomplished scale.

Who can use the Geriatric Depression Scale (Long Form)?

The following healthcare practitioners can definitely use this for their work:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Primary care physicians
  • Nurses

Any practitioner that focuses on treating the elderly and is highly trained when it comes to mental health-related treatments can include this scale in their roster of assessments.

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What are the benefits of using this particular depression scale?

It is straightforward and easy to use.

The long-form Geriatric Depression Scale is easy to use, just like its short-form version! It’s a simple Yes or No questionnaire, plus, the points for each answer and item are clear.

The only difficulty that may arise from this is on the part of the patient. Given that the questions deal with sensitive topics regarding their life, they might have a hard time answering, so just to reiterate, it’s best to give them the time and space they need to process their thoughts and answers.

Allows the geriatric patient to reflect on themselves.

In relation to giving the time and space they need to answer the questionnaire, this scale should help with giving patients the emotional distance they need to look at and examine themselves based on their questions. While it’s not a guarantee, they might come to realizations and epiphanies about themselves and will be able to pinpoint factors contributing to their experience of depression.

The scale can frame your discussions.

Let’s say that the patient you are handling has submitted the fully-accomplished scale. It’s recommended that you check each answer because they could serve as discussion points for subsequent sessions in order for them to elaborate on how they are feeling. If they were able to answer the questionnaire, they might be able to better answer you in person.

The scale will lead you to information that should help you create your care plan.

If you are able to get more elaborate answers from your geriatric patient based on their fully-accomplished questionnaire, these could serve as valuable information that will help shape your care plan.

Experiences with depression may vary from person to person, so that is why it’s important to look at their answers and ask them why they chose Yes or No to get the necessary information and make a tailor-fitted plan.

It can be used to monitor the patient over time.

The use of this scale does not have to be a one-time, big-time thing. The scale asks the patient to answer Yes or No based on how they felt during the past week prior to answering the scale.

Once you have implemented your care plan, you may reissue this scale from time to time to check if they are improving, and also if your care plan needs to be maintained or if you need to make certain adjustments.

Why use Carepatron for depression and mental health-related software?

Carepatron houses a wide variety of depression and mental health-related software. If you are a psychologist or adjacent healthcare practitioner, and you are looking for assessments to add to your work, then you are in luck! We have a wide variety of depression scales, such as the Geriatric Depression Scale, both the short form and the long form!

You can easily access it on our platform and even download free printable versions! You may download a digital version that is editable so you can simply send it online to your geriatric patient or their companion.

Using Carepatron also gives you access to a nifty storage system where you can store fully-accomplished depression scales in a HIPAA-compliant manner! It’s a good avenue for you to back up your clinical documentation in case you lose the physical versions!

You can even set up who can access the stored digital versions besides you, and you can access them anytime, anywhere, whether you are using a desktop, laptop, or even a mobile phone!

Convenience. Accessibility. Security. You get all three with Carepatron.

Therapy Software
I thought this scale will help answer certain questions, but it’s just Yes or No. Can you elaborate on what you meant by this?
I thought this scale will help answer certain questions, but it’s just Yes or No. Can you elaborate on what you meant by this?

Commonly asked questions

I thought this scale will help answer certain questions, but it’s just Yes or No. Can you elaborate on what you meant by this?

The reason why this scale will help you answer certain questions is that you can use their Yes or No answers for specific questions on the questionnaire to help frame your sessions with the geriatric patient. You can have them elaborate on their Yes or No answers.

Is this even reliable?

Yes. The Geriatric Depression Scale, whether you are using the short-form or long-form versions, is reliable. It is widely used and has gone through numerous validation tests to the point that it has become a trusted tool for psychologists and adjacent practitioners to help screen depression in geriatric patients.

Can we even consider the scoring to be objective?

Technically, no because how do you even truly come up with a qualitative score for depression? But what the scale does is give healthcare practitioners a semblance of objectivity. By assigning score ranges and specific designations for each range, the scale gives practitioners something to work with when dealing with their geriatric patients. The numbers help dictate the course of action.

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