Aging with a long-term physical impairment: An ever-changing process
Master of Arts
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The experience of people aging with long-term physical impairments is a relatively new area of research which requires further attention. There will be more people who reach old age who have lived with a long-term physical impairment as the population ages and life expectancy continues to increase. There is a gap in the research that explores life course theory while a person ages with a physical impairment. Using a life course perspective, this thesis examines the aging experiences of eight people between the ages of 50 and 68 who have lived with their physical impairment for more than 10 years. Data were gathered through in-depth, semi- structured interviews. My participants experienced problems in their life as a result of their physical impairment and the stereotypes and barriers constructed by mainstream society. Their impairments have led to physical, emotional and financial problems throughout their lives. They have learned to develop coping mechanisms, mostly on their own, to adjust to these problems and continue participating in society despite initial limitations. My thesis concludes by offering suggestions to improve policies to meet the needs of a large population of people aging with long-term physical impairments.