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Low vision is an age-related condition that affects many older adults, and may create challenges in everyday activities in older adults. Guide dogs have been shown to be an effective assistive device that can help older adults within their community. Despite vast research on dog companionship, there is limited research on the facilitators and barriers of owning a guide dog among older adults with low vision. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to explore the facilitators and barriers of owning a guide dog as experienced by older adults with low vision participating in Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) organization. Seven first time guide dog owners, ages 55 and older, were interviewed using semi-structured questions. Through constant comparison methods, five major themes emerged: changes in habits and routines, being a dog guide owner, increase in community integration, human-dog guide bonding, and dog guide enhances autonomy. Study results provide implications for occupational therapists (OT) of how guide dogs affect the daily living patterns of older adults. Additionally, study results provide insight for GDB and OTs into improving support and training processes.


Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor

Kitsum Li, OTD, OTR/L, CSRS

Publication Date

Fall 2017


San Rafael, CA


Low vision, older adults, guide dogs, assistive devices, low vision and aging


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Occupational Therapy | Physical Therapy | Psychology | Public Health Education and Promotion | Rehabilitation and Therapy

Older Adults’ Experience in Owning a Guide Dog