Objectives: In Korea, long-term care insurance has been provided to the elderly since 2008. We conducted a health survey of the elderly in a nursing home in Korea from 2007 to 2010. Since the introduction of the insurance system, many of the elderly have started using wheelchairs. We aimed to determine the effect of using wheelchairs on mental health index, serum biochemical parameters, and neutrophil function.
Methods: The subjects were 32 elderly persons (mean age: 74.44±5.79 years) who could walk unaided in 2007 and were not bedridden until 2010. We classified the subjects into the walking group (subjects could walk unaided or with a cane until 2010; 10 men, 9 women) and the wheelchair group (subjects required the use of a wheelchair from 2007 to 2010; 2 men, 11 women).
We determined stress score, stress tolerance, subjective well-being score in accordance with the Philadelphia Geriatric Center Morale Scale, and serum biochemical parameters. We also analyzed oxidant production and phagocytosis by neutrophils and estimated the balance between oxidant production and phagocytosis by correlation analysis.
Results: Increases in the stress tolerance of the wheelchair group in 2008 and 2009 and the subjective well-being score in 2009 in the survey were observed. However, in 2010, the stress tolerance and the subjective well-being score decreased to the levels in 2007. In 2010, the levels of serum albumin and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol of the wheelchair group were significantly lower than those of the walking group, and the balance between phagocytosis and oxidant production in the wheelchair group improved.