Attitudes and Beliefs on Aging Among Middle-Aged and Older Adults With Serious Mental Illness

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022 Mar;30(3):419-423. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2021.07.005. Epub 2021 Jul 24.


Older adults with serious mental illness (SMI) experience increased medical comorbidities, disability, and early mortality, but little is known about how they perceive the process of aging. This study explored attitudes and beliefs about aging among n = 20 middle aged and older adults (M = 59.8 years; range 47-66) with SMI in a state psychiatric hospital. We conducted semistructured interviews using the Attitudes to Ageing Questionnaire (AAQ) and analyzed narrative accounts using a grounded theory approach. The mean scores of overall attitudes toward aging and of the subscale of perception of psychological growth were both positive compared to a neutral rating (p = 0.026 and p = 0.004, respectively). Study participants rated their experience on the subscales of psychosocial loss and physical health change as neutral. Despite substantial psychiatric, medical, and functional disabilities, older adults with SMI in this study of psychiatric inpatients perceived the process of aging as generally positive, suggesting resilience and potential positive emotional growth in older age.

Keywords: Aging; attitudes toward aging; health; mental health; serious mental illness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires