Research on Aging

The W.D. Goodwill Initiatives on Aging is committed to producing current research on aging in an effort to improve service delivery and quality of life, as well as to positively impact current policies that affect older adults. The following is a selection of aging-related research produced by University of Utah College of Social Work faculty, and is intended to be a resource for professionals working in the aging arena.

 “Coping with symptoms of depression: A descriptive survey of community-dwelling elders”
Authors: Amanda Smith Barusch, MSW, PhD Frances Wilby, MSW, PhD Clinical Gerontologist Volume 33 (3), 210-222

This study describes the manifestation of depression among community-dwelling elders, addressing symptoms experienced, coping strategies used, and the relative effectiveness of each strategy as perceived by the elders themselves. Among the coping strategies examined, respondents reported using diversion or distraction most often, followed by problem-solving and persistence. Most reported coping effectively with the symptoms they experienced.

“Older adults who seek care in the home”
Authors: Frances Wilby, MSW PhD Cathy Chambless, PhD Quality in Ageing and Older Adults Volume 13 (2), 89-97

This paper aims to identify the characteristics of 260 adults, 65 and over, who applied for services through an Area Agency on Aging in Utah, and to determine the conditions that resulted in referral to the state-funded Home and Community Based Alternatives Program or the Medicaid Aging Waiver program. Although most of the sample lived at or near poverty levels, results suggest that higher assistance with bathing and performing heavy housework are the primary determinants of referral to the Medicaid Waiver program.

“Experiences of volunteers serving older adults”
Authors: Nancy Kelly-Gillespie, MSW PhD Frances Wilby, MSW, PhD Working with Older People Volume 16 (1), 31-40

The purpose of this study is to assess the volunteer component of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program, a service program designed to assist community-residing older adults to remain in their homes and avoid premature institutionalization. The study seeks to explore how meaningful and satisfying the volunteer experience has been for individuals involved with NHN. A total of 91% (21) volunteers reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their volunteer experience and felt they had made a difference in their community.

“Depression and social networks in community dwelling elders: A descriptive study”
Author: Frances Wilby, MSW, PhD Journal of Gerontological Social Work, Volume 54 (3), 246-259

This study was conducted to describe the social networks of depressed older adults living in the community and compare the social networks of depressed and non-depressed individuals, thus adding to the body of knowledge regarding social networks, older adults, and depression.

In this sample, depressed elders were not socially isolated. They were more likely to report contacts with friends than those were not depressed, and equally likely to report involvement in volunteer activities. Results emphasize the important of peer relationships and suggest that, in some groups of older adults, social isolation may not be a hallmark of depressive symptoms.

Last Updated: 9/4/18