Master of Science
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
The present study sought to understand how older adults’ social networks facilitate and constrain their engagement in meaningful occupations after being diagnosed with age-related vision loss (ARVL). A constructivist paradigm and narrative inquiry methodology were used to elicit and make sense of the participants’ unique stories. The participants consisted of five older adults 60 years and older, living with ARVL, including one of the following conditions; macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Participants were recruited from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and Society for Learning and Retirement (SLR). Data was collected through three sessions of semi-structured, audio-recorded virtual interviews (via Zoom and telephone calls). Participants were inquired about their experiences of interacting with social networks and engaging in desired occupations while living with ARVL. Thematic and structural narrative analyses (Riesman, 2008) were performed on participants’ stories which identified the following five dominant themes: (1) Maintaining Engagement in Social Occupations to Foster a Sense of Belonging; (2) Diverse Social Networks Fulfill Different Occupational and Psychosocial Needs; (3) Retaining a Sense of Independence through Seeking Reciprocity in Social Relationships; (4) Community Mobility as Essential for Preserving Social Relationships; and (5) Technology as a Support to Social Connectedness: Connecting via Technology versus in Person. This research expands knowledge on ARVL-related barriers and facilitators to occupational engagement and highlights the benefits of social support in maintaining visually impaired older adults’ occupational goals. The future directions and implications of the study findings on future research and vision care services are also discussed.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study aimed to understand how the social networks of older adults influence their engagement in desired activities after losing vision. Five visually impaired older adults (60 years and older) were interviewed and they shared stories about how their social networks were involved in maintaining their occupational goals and psychosocial adaptation to vision loss. Analysis of the participants’ narrative accounts revealed five themes including: (1) Maintaining Engagement in Social Occupations to Foster a Sense of Belonging; (2) Diverse Social Networks Fulfill Different Occupational and Psychosocial Needs; (3) Retaining a Sense of Independence through Seeking Reciprocity in Social Relationships; (4) Community Mobility as Essential for Preserving Social Relationships; and (5) Technology as a Substitute to Support Social Connectedness. Findings from this study may inform future research as well as the development and reformation of vision care services for older adults with visual impairment.
Kang, Ji Won, "Occupational Engagement of Older Adults with Age-Related Vision Loss (ARVL): Understanding the Influences of Social Networks" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7810.