Anderson receives NSF grant to study the effects of disabilities in older adults

Mon, 02/27/2017 - 11:10

Graduate student Raeda Anderson has received a National Science Foundation Sociology Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award.

A third of older adults in the U.S. have physical disabilities. Prior research has found that these persons report less satisfying social engagement and consequently lower mental health.  However, the research has focused largely on the quality of social interactions or perceptions of support, rather than on how older adults with disabilities access social spaces and navigate social interactions.

Why this is important:
We need to understand how and why physical disability affects individuals' desire for and ability to have meaningful social interactions. Social isolation is associated with poor mental health, worse overall physical health, greater healthcare use and expense, and even mortality.

The findings will:

  • inform intervention strategies of rehabilitation hospitals
  • help families provide a supportive environment for recovery and enhances well-being
  • allow health insurers to generate practices early and effectively in order to reduce additional mental and physical health declines
  • inform professional designers of the physical environment
  • contribute significantly to the scientific study of disability and older adult mental health

What the grant provides:
This grant will support 60 interviews with older adults with physical disabilities at a Midwestern rehabilitation hospital.

Dr. David Warner is Raeda's advisor.