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Disability Rates for Elderly Increase After 20-Year Decline
The disability rate among U.S. seniors is on the rise, a surprise considering the rate had been falling since the 1980s.
Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, said the trend, if it continues, could seriously impact quality of life for seniors in the coming decades. The findings are troubling, the study authors add, because they suggest the steady decline in disability rates among older adults may have ended.
The study identified a 9 percent increase between 2000 and 2005 in non-institutionalized adults 65 and over reporting difficulty with basic activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and in-home mobility.
“The combination of increasing disability rates plus a growing population of older adults emphasizes the importance of prevention of the many chronic conditions giving rise to disability in the first place,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson of the University of Toronto. “There is evidence, for example, that the doubling of obesity rates over the last three decades may be linked to rising disability in older people, yet the obesity problem is largely preventable.”
While people are living longer, many also are living sicker, the authors said.