ABSTRACT

Purpose: This study examined the overall discourse ability of older adults by analyzing semantic and syntactic aspects and traits of mazes with expository and persuasive tasks in order to investigate the practical ability to produce discourse. Methods: Twenty older adults (aged 65 and over) and 20 young adults (aged 20 to 28) participated in this study. Data analysis investigated differences between the two groups in semantic aspect (C-unit ratio of effective information); syntactic aspect (number of subordinate clauses, mean length of words); mazes ratio (total mazes ratio, mazes ratio per category); and differences between the two tasks in the older adults. In addition, this study also analyzed types of non-effective information in the older adults. Results: The older adults had significantly lower production in all semantic and syntactic aspects and higher maze ratios in both tasks compared with the young adults. In addition, the older adults exhibited significant difference only in C-unit of effective information between the two tasks. Lastly, in the results of the investigation on ratio by type for C-unit of non-effective information, the ratio of inappropriate content for the subject was highest in expository tasks, while the ratio of unclear pronunciation was the highest in persuasive tasks. Conclusions: These results suggest that the older adults have difficulty in delivering clear messages proper to subjects in both tasks with their syntactic complexity declining and mazes ratio increasing. This study verified the types of non-effective information that factors into interrupting the clear delivery of messages in older adults. These results discussed the characteristics of cognition in older adults including working memory as well as the implications and restrictions of the study.

KEYWORD

Older adults, expository, persuasive, effective information C-unit, mazes

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