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Ageism in informal care network members of older women

  • Mary F. Wyman (a1), Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra (a2) and Ohad Parag (a2)



Negative attitudes toward aging are common among formal healthcare providers, but have been infrequently assessed among informal caregivers providing assistance to older adults. The current study sought to identify factors associated with ageism toward older women.


Multivariate hierarchical linear regression model


Lower-income neighborhoods in an urban setting in the Midwestern USA


144 care network members of White and African American women aged ≥ 65 years


Age Group Evaluation and Description (AGED) Inventory assessed attitudes toward older women; CES-D scale measured depressive symptoms; Intergenerational Affectional Solidarity Scale assessed relationship closeness.


In bivariate analyses, African American caregivers endorsed more positive attitudes toward older women. In the multivariate regression model, attitudes toward older women were associated with care recipient health (β = 0.18, p < 0.05) and relationship closeness with the care recipient (β = 0.23, p < 0.05). However, these associations were fully mediated by care recipient-specific attitude ratings by the care network member. The association between person-specific attitudes and general attitudes was uniquely directional.


Findings from the present study are consistent with past research suggesting that ‘ageism’ may, at least in part, derive from bias against perceived poor health. Further, our findings of an association between attitude toward the care recipient and attitudes toward older women in general provide support for cognitive psychology theory which emphasizes the role of personal experience in stereotype formation through the availability heuristic. The current study underlines the necessity for development of interventions to address ageism in informal caregivers.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Mary F. Wyman, W.S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, c/o GRECC 11G, 2500 Overlook Terrace, Madison, WI 53705, USA. Phone: +1 608-280-7000; Fax: +1 608-280-7291. Email:


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Ageism in informal care network members of older women

  • Mary F. Wyman (a1), Sharon Shiovitz-Ezra (a2) and Ohad Parag (a2)


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