Feb. 4, 2019Print | PDF
Publication: Davidson, J. G. S., & Guthrie, D. M. "Older Adults With a Combination of Vision and Hearing Impairment Experience Higher Rates of Cognitive Impairment, Functional Dependence, and Worse Outcomes Across a Set of Quality Indicators." Journal of Aging and Health, 2018.
My research interests have always involved health care research and large population-based studies. I had the privilege of working with Dawn Guthrie for my undergraduate thesis project and my master of science in kinesiology degree. My project specifically examined older home care clients (aged 65+) with dual sensory impairment and the scores across a set of home care quality indicators.
Dual sensory impairment (DSI) is the combination of both hearing and vision impairment. We looked at the rates (typically expressed as a percent) across 22 existing quality indicators to flag areas of potentially poor quality of care within our cohort. We found that clients with DSI had higher rates (i.e., worse outcomes) on 20 of the 22 quality indicators we examined. These indicators included:
When we stratified our sample by the degree and type of sensory impairment, we found that the worst outcomes were among clients with highly impaired hearing, regardless of their degree of visual impairment.
The most surprising finding of this project was simply the overall proportion of older home care clients with DSI (20%). The fact that in most cases hearing and vision impairment can be corrected, leads us to believe that some of these clients may be living with unidentified or uncorrected impairments. Therefore, there is likely an opportunity to improve the functional abilities and quality of life of these clients by identifying and correcting these impairments.
Through this paper, I hope people learn that vision and hearing impairments are often correctable and that it is important to identify these impairments and tailor care to the individual’s needs in an effort to improve their everyday lives. I hope that this work can act as a resource for anyone providing care to an older adult with dual sensory impairment. This can include formal providers (e.g., nurses, personal support workers) and informal providers (e.g., family members, spouses). I also hope that this will raise awareness in the general public about how often older people experience these kinds of challenges.
This research project was part of series of projects within the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). The CCNA is a consortium of researchers and physicians, who are trying to make a difference in the quality of life and quality of health care services for people living with neurodegenerative diseases. Although I have stepped back from this area of research after this publication, Dr. Guthrie’s lab continues to be involved in this research. I completed my Master of Science degree in Kinesiology in 2014-2016 and our paper resulting from this research was published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 2018.
I am continuing my interest in research as the Research Coordinator for the Division of Paediatric Surgery at the Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, in London, Ontario, Canada.