Conceptualization of age and aging by adolescents, adult and elderly people with mental retardation

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The main goals of the present study were (a) to investigate how adult and elderly people who are mentally retarded conceptualize age, (b) to examine three components (cognition, affect, behavior) of their attitude towards aging, and (c) to investigate whether there are differences in the concept of age and aging among age groups and level of retardation. The sample included 4 age groups: 11-19 (n= 13); 20-39 (n = 12); 40-59 (n =18); 60+ (n =4). Results show that only subjects in the oldest age group have an appropriate concept of age. For persons with moderate levels of retardation, age-related concepts are difficult to understand. Conceptualization of old age is influenced fry stereotypes. Cognitively, the subjects focus on physical characteristics. Affectively, old age is seen as threatening; behaviorally, old people are viewed as helpless and useless. Awareness and understanding of age and aging increase significantly with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-383
Number of pages10
JournalEducation and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2000


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