Limitations in mobility: experiences of visually impaired older people

D. Brouwer, Gaynor Sadlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a new insight into the limitations experienced by older people with reduced vision in daily life activities. With an ageing population, increasing numbers of Dutch people are affected by visual impairment. In contrast to other European countries, occupational therapists in the Netherlands do work with this specific group, but little research has as yet been conducted in this field. This study explores in detail the mobility experiences of 10 older people with a visual impairment. Each participant was interviewed twice; the data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Giorgi's method of empirical phenomenology. The participants' severely limited mobility clearly influenced their occupational choices, space and independence, with a particularly negative change in activities of daily living. They attended fewer social activities and became more dependent on assistance, which made them anxious. Visual impairments were often misunderstood by others and the absence of facial recognition was experienced as a severe barrier to social interaction. Some specific difficulties that visually impaired older people may experience are now more transparent, which might inspire occupational therapists in other countries to work in this field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-421
Number of pages8
JournalBritish journal of occupational therapy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • Older People
  • Visual Impairment
  • Vision
  • Mobility
  • Experiences


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