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older adults, Sheridan Elder Research Centre


This study, conducted in the fall of 2004 and the winter of 2005, sought to determine whether sign comprehension suffers in healthy aging and in the presence of cognitive impairment. Sign comprehension is critical for effective driving, response to warnings and way-finding. If signs are poorly comprehended by older people including those with cognitive impairment, accident risk will be increased and independence may be compromised. Groups of young adults, healthy older adults and older adults with varying levels of cognitive impairment were asked the meaning of 65 signs used for driving, warning and way-finding. Healthy older adults were generally good at sign comprehension, but had some difficulty with way-finding signs. Older adults with cognitive impairments had poorer sign comprehension overall and were particularly poor with way-finding signage. Testing of sign comprehension needs to involve a more heterogeneous sampling of older adults. As well, signs that include text would be beneficial to those with cognitive impairment.


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Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC)

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Scialfa, C.T., Spadafora, P., Klein, M., Lesnik, A., Heinrich, A., & Lenartowicz, M. (2005). Sign comprehension in young adults, the healthy elderly, and older people with varying levels of cognitive impairment. [Report]. Oakville: Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC).

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