Trends in Disability and Related Chronic Conditions Among People Ages Fifty to Sixty-Four

Published In: Health Affairs, v. 29, no. 4, Apr. 2010, p. 725-731

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2009

by Linda G. Martin, Vicki A. Freedman, Robert F. Schoeni, Patricia M. Andreski

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Although still below two percent, the proportion of people ages 50-64 who reported needing help with personal care activities increased significantly from 1997 to 2007. The proportions needing help with routine household chores indicating difficulty with physical functions were stable. These patterns contrast with reported declines in disability among the population age 65 and older. Particularly concerning among those ages 50-64 are significant increases of limitation in specific mobility-related activities, such as getting into and out of bed. Musculoskeletal conditions remained the most commonly cited causes of disability at these ages. There were also substantial increases in the attributions of disability to depression, diabetes, and nervous system conditions for this age group.

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