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L. E. Dreer, G. McGwin, Jr., B. Liu, K. K. Ball, C. Owsley; Depression and Visual Task Performance in Community Dwelling Older Adults: Timed Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (TIADL) Tasks. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):3202.
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To examine the association between depressive symptoms and the time needed by older adults to perform visual activities typical of everyday life.
Five timed instrumental activities of daily living (TIADL) tasks and a measure of depression (CES-D 12-item) along with assessments of cognitive status, demographic variables (gender, education), and health-related variables (cigarette and alcohol use, visual processing, and general health) were administered to 2,802 older community dwelling adults (ages 65 to 94 years) at the baseline visit of the ACTIVE clinical trial. All participants had 20/50 or better visual acuity OU. The dependent variable was a composite score of the time required to perform each of the tasks (making change, reading instructions on a medicine container, finding and reading the ingredients on a can of food, finding food items on a shelf, finding a telephone number). Demographic, medical, and health co-morbidities known to affect task performance on timed visual tasks of performance were measured in order to adjust for the association between depression and TIADL task performance.
Depression scores were associated with the time needed to perform the TIADL tasks, adjusting for demographic, medical, and health-related variables (p = .05). Those older adults with a higher number of depressive symptoms were more likely to require longer times to complete the TIADL tasks.
These findings suggest that the time needed to perform visual tasks typical of everyday life is related to depression in older adults even after accounting for relevant demographic and medical variables. Potential contributing factors include symptoms of decreased energy, fatigue, anhedonia, and lethargy, all of which often co-occur with depression. These findings underscore the importance of psychological factors in understanding the mechanisms underlying the visual performance of everyday tasks. Objective measures of visual behavior such as the TIADL may be useful in clinical trials on the effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation and as an assessment tool during visual rehabilitation.
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