Unique Vulnerability: Perceived Risk in Aging Adults

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Fall 2022


Approximately 73 million Americans are age 65 or older and as this population group is expected to steadily rise, research designed to aid in understanding factors influential in their health-related perceptions becomes ever more necessary. Using a cross-sectional design, the present study investigated the perception of unique vulnerability in aging adults as a function of their proximity of exposure to illness or injury. Proximity of exposure refers to the relationship between an individual and the person experiencing the illness or injury (distant acquaintance, close acquaintance, or self). Likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data collected returned results varying from those expected. Participants from each age category reported feelings of vulnerability, financial concerns, and proximity to illness, injury, and death. Uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly caused wide-spread vulnerabilities, and while data analysis in several key areas supports the presence of unique vulnerability in aging adults, future research is still needed.


Tracy Henley

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences