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Personal factors, communication and vision predict social participation in older adults
International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 2005, Volume 7, 05, Seite 220-232, London: Informa Healthcare, ISSN: 1754-9507 (Print); 1754-9515 (Online)
Social isolation is a predictor of morbidity and mortality in older people. Speech pathologists often consider that communication disabilities associated with normal ageing (sensory loss, language and discourse changes) contribute to social isolation.
The aims of this study were to describe the functioning of older people using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO, 2001) as a conceptual framework for language and sensory functioning, communicative activity, and social participation, and to explore the relationship between communication (both at an impairment level and an activity level), social participation and personal factors (demographics and emotional health).
In a prospective study, 47 women and 28 men aged 62 to 98 years (mean equal 74 yrs) completed objective and subjective assessments of functioning and participation, and provided personal information. Assessments were individually conducted in a face-to-face interview situation with the primary researcher, who was a speech pathologist. Assessments revealed the sample had predominantly mild hearing and vision impairments, unimpaired naming ability, frequent involvement in a wide range of communication activities, and variable social network size and social activities participation.
Social participation was shown to be associated with vision, communication activities, age, education and emotional health. Naming and hearing impairments were not reliable predictors of social participation. It was concluded that professionals interested in maintaining and improving social participation of older people could well consider these predictors in community-directed interventions.
Speech pathologists should therefore promote older people's involvement in everyday communicative activities while also limiting the impact of communication-related impairments, so that social participation is maintained in our ageing population.
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International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
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