Local and global impact
Persons Living Alone with Alzheimer's Disease
Persons living alone with cognitive impairment (like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) have unique challenges. While most individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s live with a caregiver, those who live alone may not have any identified caregiver. As a result, many of these individuals may have little or no support for conducting activities of daily living (ADLs); they are likely to be even more isolated from formal sources of support, as well as informal sources of support. Individuals living alone are challenging to research and often times are underdiagnosed with conditions like Alzheimer's disease. New interventions to help assist this population are needed, especially given nearly a third of the U.S. aging population lives alone.
Family Caregiving in Rural Areas
Families caring for family members across the lifespan need supportive resources and services. This is especially true for families in rural areas, where resources and services can be more limited. The role of caregiving is demanding but the experience of caring can be diverse. Research has determined there is a need to consider one’s culture in understanding a family caregiver’s sociocultural stress and coping. While more support and resources for caregivers are needed, interventions that allow for cultural adaptations and accommodating diverse family structures are still needed. More psychological and financial support services are also warranted.
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) can disrupt an individual’s lifestyle. For many, receiving a MCI diagnosis leads to experiences of emotional turmoil, a lack of clarity around their diagnosis and the future, and feeling little hope given the lack of available treatments. By developing strategies to circumvent the development of maladaptive behaviors, such clinical interventions could significantly reduce morbidity and mortality in patients with MCI.
Disaster Services for Older Adults
The occurrence of natural disasters, large events that threaten lives and/or possessions of those in affected areas, is on the rise. Each year, people all over the world experience various natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires, which affect their ability to function with day-to-day activities. Because of these age-related risks, older persons are often exposed to more danger, encounter more life-threatening challenges when trying to evacuate or relocate, are less likely to receive disaster warnings, and often experience greater financial losses in natural disasters. Older adults also experience more difficulty recovering from disasters than younger persons, particularly if they have limited individual, social, and financial resources. Improving disaster preparedness, response and recovery for this population is a priority for Dr. Gibson’s research.
Community Paramedicine and Crisis Response
Often vulnerable community members fall through the cracks of our community’s systems of care. A relatively new approach, Interdisciplinary community paramedicine programs, have the opportunity to offer comprehensive services to patients who are dependent on 9-1-1 for care and support by providing education and resources, care coordination, and patient advocacy to ensure these patients receive quality care. Such programs may enhance community residents’ quality of life and utilization of healthcare services. Further, these programs have been beneficial in reducing 9-1-1 calls and hospital readmissions. When we are redirecting use of 9-1-1 to more critical circumstances, we are ensuring life-saving resources are available when needed.
Grief and Loss
The loss of a family member or friend can have profound psychological
and physical implications. I am extremely interested in digital immortality and the role social media plays in end-of-life. Further, I have been exploring the role of narrative in grief. Narrative therapy for grief is an area I hope to continue to explore, particularly with dementia caregivers and disaster survivors.