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Caring for Older Adults With Vision Impairment and Dementia

Background and Objectives: Dementia and vision impairment (VI) are common among older adults but little is known about caregiving in this context. Research Design and Methods: We used data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study, a nationally representative survey of Medicare beneficiaries, linked to their family/unpaid helpers from the National Study of Caregiving. Vision impairment was defined as self-reported blindness or difficulty with distance/near vision. Probable dementia was based on survey report, interviews, and cognitive tests. Our outcomes included hours of care provided, and number of valued activities (scored 0-4) affected by caregiving, per month. Results: Among 1,776 caregivers, 898 (55.1%, weighted) assisted older adults without dementia or VI, 450 (21.9%) with dementia only, 224 (13.0%) with VI only, and 204 (10.0%) with dementia and VI. In fully adjusted negative binomial regression analyses, caregivers of individuals with dementia and VI spent 1.7 times as many hours (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4-2.2) providing care than caregivers of those without either impairment; however, caregivers of individuals with dementia only (95% CI = 1.1-1.6) and VI only (95% CI = 1.1-1.6) spent 1.3 times more hours. Additionally, caregivers of individuals with dementia and VI had 3.2 times as many valued activities affected (95% CI = 2.2-4.6), while caregivers of dementia only and VI only reported 1.9 times (95% CI = 1.4-2.6) and 1.3 times (95% CI = 0.9-1.8) more activities affected, respectively. Discussion and Implications: Our results suggest that caring for older adults with VI involves similar time demands as caring for older adults with dementia, but that participation impacts are greater when caring for older adults with both dementia and VI. Translational Significance: When compared with caring for older adults with either dementia or vision impairment, caring for older adults with both dementia and vision impairment involves more hours of caregiving per month and further limits caregivers' ability to participate in social activities. Low-vision rehabilitation and integration of low-vision services into the care of older adults with dementia and vision impairment may reduce caregiver burden.

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Oxford university press
ISBN/ISSN
2399-5300
Publication Year
2020
Issue Number
6
Journal Titles
Innovation in Aging
Volume Number
4
Start Page
igaa043