Vision Impairment and Depression in the Older Adult

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The older adult population in the United States is rapidly expanding both because of longer life expectancies as well as the aging of the baby boomers. While vision impairment is a growing concern among older adults, there have been few, mostly small studies, of the impact of vision impairment on this population. The present study uses a national data set, the Second Supplement on Aging (1994 -1996) from the National Health Interview Survey, in a cross-sectional study of 9,447 civilian non-institutionalized persons, aged 70 years and over at the time of their interview. The SOA II has been studied in ... continued below

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Otters, Rosalie V. August 2005.

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  • Otters, Rosalie V.

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The older adult population in the United States is rapidly expanding both because of longer life expectancies as well as the aging of the baby boomers. While vision impairment is a growing concern among older adults, there have been few, mostly small studies, of the impact of vision impairment on this population. The present study uses a national data set, the Second Supplement on Aging (1994 -1996) from the National Health Interview Survey, in a cross-sectional study of 9,447 civilian non-institutionalized persons, aged 70 years and over at the time of their interview. The SOA II has been studied in the context of a social theory of aging that emphasizes interdependence through the life course using a stress process model that has been refined into a disability model. Disability is understood as a social construction outcome rather than as a medical outcome. Vision impairment is the stressor which is mediated by health (falls, functioning and self-health report), financial resources (education, income and having only public health insurance) and social support (marital, living along, having no living children, social activities in number and intensity). Depression is a possible, but not a necessary result of vision impairment. Disability may result when a medical pathology leads to an impairment which results in a functional limitation and finally a social disability. This secondary analysis used a multinomial logistic regression for both the whole sample as well as separately for each gender. For the whole sample the results indicate that a typical profile of a vision-impaired older adult depressed some/all of the time, would be a younger-old White woman (aged 70-74 years old) who has fallen in the past 12 months, has difficult with one or more Activities of Daily Living or with both one or more Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, has a poor to fair self-heath report, a family income under $20,000, a high school or less education, lives alone, has a living child and lacks social activities in number and intensity. In the gender samples, only the female sample at the some/all of the time depression category is significant. Older vision-impaired adults, especially older women who have more social supports are less likely to be depressed and so disabled. There is a need for social policies that will educate, encourage and support older vision-impaired adults as they seek to compensate for the loss of vision, often late in life.

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  • August 2005

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  • Feb. 15, 2008, 4:18 p.m.

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  • Dec. 12, 2013, 12:28 p.m.

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Otters, Rosalie V. Vision Impairment and Depression in the Older Adult, dissertation, August 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4848/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .