Gerontology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Mental health and perceived loneliness among widowed older adults: Exploring the effects of gender and social support

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-16
Abstract: 

A mixed methods study was conducted to examine the association between poor mental health and loneliness among widowed older adults aged 65 and over, accounting for differential effects of gender and social support. The life course theory, social support and stress theory, and feminism/masculinity theories were used to frame this research. Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2008/09) was analyzed using a subsample of 4,163 widowed respondents. A hierarchical linear regression analysis was conducted to examine loneliness, mental health, and potential buffering of social support and gender interaction. These analyses were supplemented with qualitative interviews conducted with 20 widowed older adults to further explore experiences, challenges and coping strategies. Integrated findings reveal the mediating role of social support. Implications of the findings suggest the salience of resilience over the life course, mediating effects of social support, the gendered effects of widowhood, exploration of longitudinal studies and placing a greater focus on widowed older adults’ ethnic backgrounds. Suggested interventions include the expansion of bereavement services and intergenerational programs.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Andrew Wister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Characteristics of wisdom in older adults: A review of the literature

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-08
Abstract: 

Wisdom is an ancient and elusive concept, one with great relevance for the world today. Climate change, global political instability, and the increasingly complex problems facing humanity make wisdom particularly important now. There are notable parallels between how world leadership does not provide the needed urgent attention to the challenge of climate change, environmental stewardship, and human rights, and how elders are dismissed and diminished in many societies. Elders in the past were revered for their wisdom; unfortunately, their vital role in current society has shifted due to the fast pace of life and technological advances, with many wondering whether the challenges associated with these issues will serve humanity or contribute to our demise. This literature review will highlight: the intersections between ancient and contemporary views on wisdom as it relates to life satisfaction; intelligence versus wisdom-related knowledge; the importance of religion and spirituality to older adults; and mortality and ethics in society.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Habib Chaudhury
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

An exploration of pathways, motivations, and experiences among older Jewish volunteers in Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-14
Abstract: 

Volunteering has been shown to benefit older adults in numerous ways, often leading to improved health outcomes, increased social connections, and providing a sense of meaning and purpose. However, knowledge with regards to the volunteer experiences of older adults who belong to ethnocultural minorities is limited. The goal of this study was to explore the pathways, motivations, and experiences of older Jewish adults who volunteer within the Jewish community of Vancouver. Qualitative research methods were utilized, including semi-structured interviews with twenty-one older adult volunteers (age 55+), and two volunteer staff. The findings provide further insight into the pathways, motivations, and experiences of this specific ethnocultural minority, and the unique ways in which Jewish culture influences their volunteer experiences. These findings have potential practice implications for the creation of inclusive, culturally-sensitive volunteer programs for older adults, and how to best recruit and retain older adult volunteers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Andrew Wister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Exploring the motivations and experiences of middle and older aged adult rock climbers: SSHRC grant funding proposal

Date created: 
2018-05-14
Abstract: 

Lifelong adherence and attachment to physical activity, recreation, and leisure among older adults is an evolving topic; however, very little research has been conducted on older adults engaged in what is termed ‘serious leisure activity.’ One growing type of serious leisure activity is rock climbing. The aim of this Capstone Project is to develop a mock SSHRC grant funding proposal (Insight Development), which is established from a background review of literature and a small exploratory pilot project. The research grant proposes to compare and contrast the experiences and motivations of middle and older aged (50+) rock climbers with a matched sample of aquatic fitness participants. The data collected as part of the preliminary qualitative-based Pilot Project were analyzed using a thematic analysis. Four major themes were identified and incorporated into the mock grant proposal: continued and increased participation; unique lifestyle characteristics; experiential and intrinsic rewards; and camaraderie and social context. The findings point to strong activity attachment, social network effects, and suggests that meaningful modes of physical activity encourage lifelong, engaged participation.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Andrew Wister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Community-based Transportation and Outdoor Mobility for Older Adults: A Literature Synthesis and Case Study

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-06
Abstract: 

This capstone project is a synthesis of literature on transportation alternatives for older adults. Database searches resulted in 112 relevant articles grouped across three categories: older adult driving and supports for transitioning to non-driver status; community-based transportation options for older adults with mobility impairments; transportation planning and advocacy for older adults. The findings demonstrate that citizen-led neighbourhood-based options such as community-based micro transit and volunteer driver programs facilitate access of older adults. Function, comfort, and safety of older adults are important aspects in neighbourhood design. Regulatory and financial incentives, street infrastructure upgrades and older adult empowerment and advocacy programs facilitate the transition of older adults to an active transportation lifestyle from a car-focused one. Projects that take an integrated, multi-sectoral approach are more successful in diffusion of transportation alternatives at the community level than single sector approaches. A focused case study on neighbourhood barriers and facilitators complements the literature synthesis findings.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Atiya Mahmood
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Mobility scooter use for community access: An exploration of individual and environmental factors on use and safety

Date created: 
2018-10-12
Abstract: 

Mobility limitation that often accompany population aging results in an increase in the use of mobility scooters, which comes with benefits and safety risks. The Human Activity Assistive Technology model served as a guiding framework to explore the interrelationship between individual, assistive technology (scooter) and environmental factors. Fifteen scooter users from four Metro Vancouver municipalities participated in a mixed-methods study that focused on scooter use and safety, and environmental factors. Through interviews and observations, data were collected on the perception of scooter in the pedestrian-vehicle continuum, knowledge of the rules of road, and perception of barriers and facilitators within the physical and social environment. Most scooter users saw themselves as pedestrians but had limited knowledge regarding scooter/pedestrian rules. Environment factors that created barriers and safety concerns included design of street infrastructure as well as, social behaviour of pedestrians. These findings can inform education, training and policy development around scooter use.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Atiya Mahmood
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Exploring facilitators and barriers of the neighbourhood built environment for people living with early-stage dementia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-09-24
Abstract: 

Majority of research examining the impact of the built environment on people with dementia focuses on institutional settings, while the role of the community built environment is largely ignored. Using a mixed-methods approach this study examined the effect of the neighbourhood built environment on mobility and community participation of people with early-stage dementia. A conceptual framework was developed to represent key concepts and their interrelationships. The findings reveal that challenges to mobility and participation include: leaving the comfort zone, safety, a changing skillset, and losing their license. Environmental features that affected mobility and participation included: pedestrian-friendly areas, wayfinding support, and the availability of dementia-friendly destinations. Mobility and participation in community spaces provided: maintenance of lifestyle in a time of loss, personal freedom, and a sense of normalcy. These findings demonstrate the need for responsive planning and design of neighbourhoods to foster mobility and community participation in people with dementia.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Habib Chaudhury
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Double and triple duty caregiving and its effect on personal health and wellbeing: a pilot project and sample funding proposal

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-23
Abstract: 

This capstone project examines the effects of double and triple duty caregiving on the personal health and wellbeing of nurses. A mock research grant is proposed for the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Project Scheme, based on a critical review of literature and the results of a pilot project. Qualitative interviews were conducted with nine female nurses (aged 45 to 67) living in British Columbia who were providing informal caregiving for a family member. Results from the pilot project indicate that these caregivers experience adverse physical and mental health issues, which in turn compromise their job performance and heightened their family obligations. Caregivers also experience burden differently, depending on their nursing qualifications and support networks. Overall, it is argued that research is needed on this topic to further examine how double and triple duty caregiving places unnecessary strain on both healthcare workers and the health care system.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Supervisor(s): 
Barbara Mitchell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

The aching backbone: perceptions and experiences of care aides in long term residential care

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-06-06
Abstract: 

Purpose: Care aides provide most of the direct care for residents in long-term residential care (LTRC), and thus hold the greatest potential to improve residents’ quality of life. Two-thirds of residents in these facilities are older adults with dementia. The number of care aides working in LTRC needed to support Canada’s aging population is only expected to increase with time. Like residents in LTRC, care aides are a disenfranchised population. There is little understanding of what are the experiences and perceptions of care aides in LTRC. This doctoral thesis adds to the scarce body of knowledge that sheds light on the experience of care aides in LTRC. This study was informed by the literature on person-centered care and personhood theory, as well as critical gerontology and institutional theory. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences and perceptions held by care aides in LTRC and to identify their perceived barriers and facilitators toward the delivery of care to residents. Method: The overall methodology for this study was a qualitative design, using ethnographic data-generating methods from one complex-care floor located within a campus of care facility in rural and remote Western Canada. Data sources for this study included the following: semi-structured interviews (70 hours) with 31 care aides, naturalistic observation (170 hours), and reflexive journaling (20,000 words). Thematic analysis was used to examine all data sources. Results: Care aides’ experiences entering and working in LTRC are varied; however, there are common overarching themes, including not being adequately trained for the realities of working as care providers and the scope of practice they are expected to fulfill within LTRC, as well as being under supported in their role. Participants report strong feelings of responsibility and affection for their residents, yet they perceive insurmountable barriers in their role that prevent them from delivering the care they would like to give. These barriers include the following: (i) lack of standardized education and training; (ii) lack of proper equipment; (iii) lack of autonomy over their residents; (iv) politics and bullying within the power hierarchy of LTRC; and (v) chronic unaddressed moral distress among care aides. Suggestions for improvement of care delivery in LTRC include the following: (i) standardization of care aide education and training; (ii) incorporation of reporting measures specifically for care aides; and (iii) increased autonomy of care aides over their residents. Implications: The support and empowerment of care aides in LTRC are fundamental in the delivery of good care to residents. Care aides have expressed that their attitudes toward their job are low because they feel unheard and voiceless within their work environment. Efforts to empower care aides’ voices should be developed and implemented to meet the needs of a large segment of Canada’s population living with dementia—residents in LTRC.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Andrew Sixsmith
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Stories of resident-to-resident aggression: Fears and experiences in long-term residential care

Date created: 
2018-02-26
Abstract: 

This thesis explores family caregiver concerns and experiences around resident-to-resident aggression (RRA) in long-term residential care (LTRC). Canadian media reports spanning a ten-year period (2007-2017) about RRA (n= 64) were analyzed with a critical discourse lens to examine the representation of family members. Also, family caregivers of residents in LTRC from two British Columbia health regions (n= 8) were interviewed about the influence of RRA media reports on perception of safety for themselves and their relatives in LTRC, and their broader caregiving experiences. Family caregivers viewed media reports on RRA as sensational, contributing to the stigma of dementia, and lacking context, but they did not impact the family caregivers’ sense of safety. Instead, the lack of access to empowerment structures (i.e. informal power, formal power, information, support, and education) and the ambiguous position of family within the hierarchical power structure of LTRC negatively influenced their caregiving experiences. Findings suggest a need for systemic change to increase family empowerment and role clarity with respect to prevention and management of RRA.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Andrew Sixsmith
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.