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Intervention Study “Quality of life in elderly people with mental disabilities – maintenance and promotion of everyday competence” (2000-2003)

Primary investigator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse

Chief research assistants: Stage I: Dipl.-Gerontol. Michaela Grüner
                                               Stage II: Dr. med., Dipl.-Gerontol. Christina Ding-Greiner

Project Description

Recent findings by international studies support the assumption that the capacity to learn and plasticity are also apparent in people with mental disabilities. The present study was designed as an empirical test of this assumption. Competence is described as a comprehensive construct which integrates aspects of independence, self-responsibility, self-determination and experienced meaning of life. Moreover, it also refers to the impact of the physical, social, and infrastructural environment on the aforementioned aspects. We proposed that independent living in older people with mental disabilities could be enhanced by a more differentiated perception and promotion of potentials by members of staff in health care institutions. An intervention program for caregivers was developed to initiate an examination of their own behaviour in daily interaction with mentally disabled residents, particularly in terms of any support of dependent behaviour.

40 mentally disabled residents and 40 members of staff participated in the present study. Video tapes were used to assess behaviour of staff and residents in daily care and support. In addition to this, a questionnaire was developed to assess other aspects of ageing, independence and everyday competence in mentally disabled residents.

Effects of the developed intervention program were tested with a pre-post-control group-design. Results show highly significant increases in residents’ independence and everyday competence. Therefore, our hypothesis that independent living in older people with intellectual disability could be enhanced by a more differentiated perception and promotion of existing potentials by the members of the institutional staff received strong support.


Kruse, A., Grüner, M., & Ding-Greiner, C. (2002). Den Jahren Leben geben. Lebensqualität im Alter bei
Menschen mit Behinderungen. Projektbericht [Add life to the years. Quality of life in old age in people with mental disabilities. Project report]. Stuttgart: Diakonisches Werk Württemberg
Kruse, A., & Ding-Greiner, C. (2003). Ergebnisse einer Interventionsstudie zur Förderung und Erhaltung
von Selbstständigkeit bei älteren Menschen mit geistiger Behinderung [Results of an intervention study for promoting and maintaining the independence of elderly people with mental disabilities]. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 36, 463-474.

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Latest Revision: 2012-11-01
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