Negative attitudes toward the elderly may block their access to the rehabilitation services after accidents, illness or surgery, a study says.

The problem of paying for such services represents the greatest barrier to obtaining them, according to the study, released this summer by the American Association of Retired Persons.But it concluded that many older people do not get rehabilitation largely because of their age.

"Many people associate rehabilitation only with younger persons and the possibility of return to work and see no need to provide these services to older people," it said.

"Yet rehabilitation can help older people to regain mobility and live independently following a stroke, heart attack, hip fracture or chronic illness."

Rehabilitation refers to services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy and rehabilitative nursing and the report asserts: "The provision of rehabilitation services may make the difference between a person who is bedfast and a person who can walk with a walker."