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Abstract

The Aging Game simulation activity was designed to improve medical students’ attitudes toward older adults. This study was conducted to determine if the Aging Game, adapted for use with allied health students, could yield positive results in the students’ levels of anxiety about aging and attitudes toward aging. The modified Aging Game was implemented at a large Midwestern university with 156 students from three allied health areas – nutrition and dietetics, physical therapy, and long-term care administration. All students actively engaged in the simulation activity and completed pre- and posttest questionnaires containing the Anxiety about Aging Scale (AAS) and the Aging Semantic Differential (ASD) measures. Results indicated most students had low anxiety about aging and positive attitudes toward older adults both before and after the Aging Game activity. Changes in the students’ pre- and posttest scores on AAS and/or ASD measures were mixed, with small differences in average scores. The demographics of the sample group for this study may partially explain the effects the simulation experience had on these allied health students. That some students took on a more negative attitude toward older adults after the simulation could be attributed to a more realistic view of the difficulties and challenges of aging. Also, the shortened timeframe of the Aging Game simulation may have affected the students’ reactions to the activity. Future activities to complement the simulation, such as reflective writing and interaction with older adults, may improve the impact of the Aging Game on the attitudes of allied health students.

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