Older disabled people have to deal with more stigma from society, and find their disabilities more debilitating to everyday life, a survey has found.
Leicester-based solicitors Bray & Bray conducted the survey to assess attitudes towards the disabled, as well as the views and feelings of those who have disabilities themselves.
One of the most significant figures from the survey showed the difference in outlook of younger people with a disability and those aged over 25. None of the 18-24 year olds who answered the survey believe the general public treats them differently due to their disability, but more than three quarters of those aged 25 to 30 said their disability does lead to different behaviour from others. This figure stands at 55% for those aged 31 to 40.
Specialist personal injury solicitor at Bray & Bray solicitors Adrian Ganderton said:
“It’s interesting to see such a difference in the way the young and elderly view their disabilities, and how they are in turn treated by others. It is a stark reminder that, for many, support networks and a social life deteriorate with time, and that as a nation we need to invest in good care and support for older people. The survey also suggests that perhaps, unsurprisingly, coping with many conditions becomes more difficult as we age.”
Those at the younger end of the scale are also less likely to think that their disability is a hindrance to their life. While only a quarter of those aged 18 to 24 say that their disability has an impact on what they want to do on a day-to-day basis, over 90% of those aged 25 to 30 said this was the case.
One respondent aged 18-24 suggested that some of the hindrances linked to disability may be combated by positive thinking, stating: “My body is weak but my mind is strong, anything I put my mind to I can do”.
Of those aged 31 to 40, 87% find their disability a burden or hindrance to their life, and 85% of those aged 60 and above agree with this. People with a wide variety of disabilities answered the survey, including muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s, spina bifida, ME, short bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, multiple sclerosis, Treacher Collins syndrome, osteoarthritis of the spine, Scheuermann’s disease, arthritis and paralysis following accidents or nerve damage.
More than 87% of disabled people have never been extended the courtesy of being asked by other people how they would prefer their disability to be referred to. Furthermore, more than 30% of non-disabled respondents would not change their use of language even if they were told that the term able bodied is offensive to many disabled people, according to the results.
Commenting further, Adrian Ganderton said:
“I think the results of the survey could give us all food for thought, and it shows the small differences we can make in both our personal and professional lives to be more understanding and conscious of peoples’ feelings.”