ATTITUDES OF SOCIAL WORK STUDENTS TOWARDS THE AGEISM

Abstract

Author(s): Serap DASBAS Nur Feyzal KESEN

Ageism which is a concept first used in 1969 by Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, can be defined as "a process of systematic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are old" (Butler, 1995: 35). Turkey's population is growing older and the elderly constitutes an important target group especially in terms of the social work profession. Therefore determining the causes of discriminatory attitudes towards the elderly is extremely important in terms of quality of services provided to the elderly. Starting from this view, the aim of this research is to determine the attitudes of social work students towards the ageism in Turkey and the sociodemographic characteristics that affect these attitudes. The research population consists of social work students in all active departments of social work in 2012- 2013 academic year in Turkey; the sample consists of 990 social work students from different universities such as Hacettepe, Selçuk, Ankara, Adnan Menderes, Bakent, Yalova, Kocaeli and KTO Karatay. 610 of the participants are female and 380 are male. The research data were obtained by using personal information questionnaire which is developed by the researchers and the “Ageism Attitude Scale” which is developed by Vefikuluçay Y?lmaz and Terziolu (2011: 267). As a result of the study, female students have more positive attitudes than male students in the “restricting life of the elderly” sub-dimension of Ageism Attitude Scale; students who are 21 and older have more positive attitudes than students between the age of 17 and 20; students who are in the first grade have more positive attitudes than students in the third and fourth grade in the “negative ageism” sub-dimension; students who say that elderly relatives are important in their lives have more positive attitudes than others in the “restricting life of the elderly”subdimension and students who have taken a course on old age have more negative attitudes than students who didn’t have any courses about it. In conclusion, when considering Turkey has started to increase the proportion of elderly in the population, it is important for social workers, which is one of the occupation that undertake the task of planning and providing services for the elderly population, to be informed about old age and to improve the skills for working with the elderly.

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