Local and global impact
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.
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.
Families caring for family members across the lifespan need supportive resources and services. 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.
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.
Housing Affordability and Alternative Models for Housing
Affordability is particularly relevant to for everyone paying for housing, but is especially important for older residents on fixed incomes with limited time horizons, meaning compared to younger adults, older adults have a shortened period for accruing financial reserves. Housing costs typically account for the largest item in most household budgets, therefore affecting older persons’ financial security and the ability to accumulate wealth to sustain them in later life. Nationally, households paying over 50% of their income for housing are considered “extremely cost burdened” and one third of older adults are cost burdened (Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2014). As housing costs rise, it is important to understand that a lack of reasonably priced homes may be detrimental to health given that housing costs are often associated with cuts in other areas such as health care. Thus, housing affordability is paramount and may lead to changes in where and how one may live. Together with rising health care costs, longevity, and changing demographics, housing affordability and housing options for older adults in the US need to be examined to determine the best approaches to plan for older residents’ housing needs and preferences.
Often vulnerable community members fall through the cracks of our community’s systems of care. A relatively new approach, Iinterdisciplinary 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.
Police Officer Wellness
In order to protect the communities they serve, law enforcement officers must receive the tools and resources they need to protect their own health and safety. Officers need resources and support to develop set of skills that can be immediately applied to everyday life to strengthen one’s ability to overcome adversity and challenges, manage stress, and thrive in their personal and professional life. They also need a collaborative and supportive environment to thrive. Dr. Gibson is working with UK colleagues to develop tools and materials that can be implemented by police departments to enhance their officers' well-being on and off the job.
Digital Immortality and Issues at End of Life
Social networking has led to an overload of individual’s sharing thoughts and ideas, pictures, videos, autobiographical history, and personal communications. Nevertheless, have we as a society really thought about the long term effects of our social histories? In the literature, implications of our “online lives” have started to immerge with discussion as to what social media will mean for future generations. Most social networking sites do not terminate user account following a user’s death. Our social media accounts could potential serve as our own autobiography. For some account holders, they may not wish to have such information available after they are deceased. This phenomenon, digital immortality, is defined is a way to preserve your online life and experiences, and to "live on" after one’s physical death (see Sofka, Gibson & Silberman, 2017). There are many ethical issues, legality concerns, problems with deceased loved ones’ continued presence online (digital grief), and challenges in dictating preferences in regards to digital immortality that still need to be explored.