The Role of Sensory Processing in the Everyday Lives of Older Adults

Patricia S. Pohl, Winnie Dunn, Catana Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


This study investigated whether there are age-related differences in sensory processing within daily life. Participants included 404 community-dwelling adults divided into three age groups: 19 to 34 years old (127 individuals), 35 to 64 years old (126 individuals), and 65 years and older (151 individuals). Each participant completed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile. There was a difference in sensory processing between the three groups (p = .000), with the older adults noticing sensory input less than the young and middle aged adults (p = .002 for both groups). Both middle aged and older adults engaged in less sensory seeking behaviors than did young adults (p = . 012 and p = .000, respectively). In an additional analysis, the older group was subdivided into four age groups (65 to 69 years, 70 to 74 years, 75 to 79 years, 1 and 80 years and older). There was an age-related difference between the four groups (p = .000). Those 75 to 79 years old and those 80 years and older noticed sensory input less than did those younger than 70 years (p = .002 and p = .001, respectively). Those 80 years and older were also less apt to seek sensory experiences than were those younger than 70 years (p = .011). The authors propose hypotheses about the meaning of these findings and provide recommendations for the application of this knowledge to support older adults to age in place successfully.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalOTJR Occupation, Participation and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Perception
  • Sensation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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