The relationship of age-related factors to psychological functioning among people with disabilities

Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2010 May;21(2):281-97. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2009.12.005.


The potential influence of age and aging on the psychological functioning of people with disabilities is surprisingly complex. In people with spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, depression is highly prevalent. The limited research in this area indicates that older age and greater time span since disability onset may be associated with less self-reported depressive symptoms. Posttraumatic growth (PTG) and benefit finding (BF) are also common in people with disabilities. Older age tends to be associated with less BF and PTG. Studies that use longitudinal designs and examine multiple age-related factors simultaneously are needed. Potential mediators of age-related effects, such as historical trends, life-cycle events, maturity, and declining health, also need to be examined. There are many interesting theoretic and empiric concepts from aging research that can inform future research on the psychological aspects of aging with disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / psychology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / rehabilitation
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Sickness Impact Profile*
  • Social Support
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation