Attitudes of older adults toward their peers with mental disabilities
Goatcher, Sandra M.
The attitudes of older adults without disabilities have been identified as a potential barrier for older adults with mental disabilities to integrate into community-based senior programs. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of older adults toward their peers with mental disabilities and the demographic correlates associated with those attitudes. Two scales were utilized to measure the attitudes of older adults: Attitude Toward Disabled Persons Scale - Form O (modified) ATDP and Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). The Contact with Disabled Persons Scale - modified (CDP) was used to measure the amount of contact older adults had with people with mental disabilities. Demographic correlates were examined in relation to attitudes as measured by ATDP and/or the TRA scale and to amount of contact: gender, age, income, types of activities, attendance, urban/rural, disability, family member with a mental disability, amount of contact, labeling and behavioural characteristics. The attitudes of older adults appeared to be neutral (ATDP) to positive (TRA) toward their peers with mental disabilities. Results from the CDP indicated participants had a low level of contact with people with mental disabilities. Significant relationships were indicated between amount of contact and positive attitudes (TRA scale) and between rural, age (younger) and education and higher attitude scores (ATDP), as well as more contact. Participants with a family member with mental disabilities also reported having more contact. Results from this study provided some important information about the attitudes of older adults toward people with mental disabilities and the demographic correlates associated with those attitudes.