THE ADJUSTMENT OF THE ELDERLY BLIND FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ROLE THEORY
MARCUS, RANDOLPH OWEN
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This dissertation focused on the relationship between the expectations of significant others and the adjustment of the elderly blind. Adjustment was viewed in terms of the level of independent functioning achieved in daily tasks and attitudes. Independent functioning was also studied in relationship to self expectations, age of onset of blindness, amount of residual vision, living arrangements, attitudes towards blindness, morale and nine demographic variables: age, sex, race, religion, former occupation, finances, education, health and intelligence. A role theory perspective was used throughout the research.;The sample of volunteers consisted of ninety-five legally blind senior citizens from the groupwork department of the Jewish Guild for the Blind in New York City.;An extensive interview schedule and objective measures were used to gather the data. Each subject's level of independent functioning in eight areas fundamental to independence in daily living was determined, e.g., mobility. Self expectations for performance on selected tasks and the perceived expectations of four groups of significant others was also assessed: family, sighted friends and acquaintances, blind friends, and agency staff. Expectations were then studied in relationship to level of functioning. Other interrelationships between variables were also examined.;Perceived and self expectations were both found to be strongly related to level of functioning and independently associated with it. Age of onset of blindness, amount of residual vision and living arrangements were not related to functioning or perceived expectations. Other analyses showed that except for self expectations, perceived expectations are generally a better predictor of level of functioning than any of these variables, or the other nine demographic variables. Analysis also showed that agency staff were seen as having the highest expectations for independent functioning, followed by blind friends, family and sighted friends and acquaintances.;Findings related to the attitudinal variables showed that morale is associated with functioning and self expectations, but not perceived expectations. Attitudes towards blindness were not related to functioning or expectations though a strong trend was found.;The results show that role theory can be used to understand differences in adjustment among the elderly blind. There are also practice implications for agency services, practitioner interventions and integration projects.
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