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Views of disability in the United States and Singapore

Publication Abstract

Verbrugge, Lois M., K.K. Mehta, and E. Wagenfeld-Heitz. 2006. "Views of disability in the United States and Singapore." Research on Aging, 28(2): 216-239.

How do older people with disabilities feel about assistance? What do "independence," "dependence," and "disability" mean to them? The authors interviewed 34 American and 30 Singaporean people aged 70 years and older and compared their responses using quantitative and qualitative analyses. The U.S. seniors insisted on being in charge of their daily lives with minimal help of any kind. The Singaporeans received family help daily but felt that they were a burden and yearned for more personal freedom. In both countries, independence meant receiving no personal help for tasks or having personal autonomy. Dependence did not necessarily refer to the opposite situation. The Americans had broad criteria for a "person with disability"; the Singaporeans had narrow criteria. Singaporeans expressed great empathy for persons with disabilities, whereas Americans evaluated society's progress concerning them. Common research concepts appear to have different embedded cultural meanings in the two societies.

DOI:10.1177/0164027505284332 (Full Text)

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