Relationship between dry mouth, depression and systemic diseases in patients over 55 years of age from care homes and family homes

Katarzyna Barczak, Mirona Palczewska-Komsa, Aleksandra Wilk, Barbara Wiszniewska, Anna Jurczak, Paulina Zabielska, Jadwiga Buczkowska-Radlińska


Introduction: Xerostomia (dry mouth, oral dryness) is the subjective sensation of dryness in the mouth. The gradual slight decrease in the secretion of saliva is physiologically related to aging of the body. Factors that predispose patients to the occurrence of dry mouth include systemic diseases, radiotherapy, anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between dry mouth, depression and systemic diseases in respondents living in nursing homes (NH) and family homes (FH).
Materials and methods: The study group comprised 226 respondents; 106 residents aged 55–101 years in two NH and 120 respondents living in FH. There were 110 men and 116 women. The study was based on the results of a diagnostic survey using an original questionnaire regarding general medical issues, and also the subjective feeling of dry mouth investigated with a standard Fox test. A shortened version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was used to assess the wellbeing of patients and their state/sense of depression. The data obtained from the survey were analysed using Statistica 12 software (StatSoft Poland).
Results: On the basis of the information and an analysis of the medical documentation of the NH group of patients, isolated systemic illness was found in only a limited number of patients.  High blood pressure combined with heart disease was most frequently noted in NH (26.4%) and FH patients (25%). There was a significantly higher incidence of hypofunction and decreased secretion of saliva in NH patients (56.8%) than in FH patients (41.6%). No correlation between these symptoms and systemic diseases or depression was found in patients from either group.

Conclusions: There was no correlation between the symptoms of dry mouth and the diagnosed systemic diseases in respondents from either group. The residents of NH were characterized by a worse mental state than those in FH. The symptoms of dry mouth were statistically significantly more frequent in residents of NH than in residents of FH. The residents of NH exhibiting worse mental state more often complained of a dry mouth sensation, however the difference was not statistically significant.


xerostomia; Fox test; elderly people; Geriatric Depression Scale; depression; systemic diseases

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