Disability and Care Needs of Older Americans: An Analysis of the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study. Activity Limitations

04/29/2014

Table 1 shows the percentage and number of older adults with self-care or mobility limitations, household activity limitations, and either type of limitation. Altogether, 18% report difficulty but not receiving assistance with self-care and mobility limitations and another one in five (20.1%) receives assistance from another person. With respect to household activities, 12% report difficulty but not receiving assistance, and one in four (24.8%) have received assistance related to their health or functioning in the last month.

The bottom panel combines self-care/mobility and household activity limitations. Nearly 20%--7.5 million--report difficulty with at least one activity but no assistance, and another 28.7%--nearly 11 million--received assistance with at least one activity in the last month.

TABLE 1. Percentage and Number of the 65 and Older Population with Self-Care, Mobility, and Household Activity Limitations

  % (millions)
Self-care and mobility limitationsa
No difficulty and no help 61.5 23.4
Difficulty, but no help 18.3 7.0
Help 20.1 7.7
Household activity limitationsb
No difficulty and no help 62.8 23.9
Difficulty, but no help 12.4 4.7
Help for health or functioning reasons 24.8 9.5
Any limitations
No difficulty and no help 51.7 19.8
Difficulty, but no help 19.6 7.5
Help 28.7 10.9
 
SOURCE: 2011 NHATS; N=8077.
NOTES:
a. Bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, getting out of bed, getting around inside one’s home or building, or leaving one’s home or building.
b. Laundry, hot meals, shopping for personal items, paying bills/banking, or handling medications.

Table 2 shows these prevalences by five-year age groups. The percentage reporting difficulty with self-care or mobility activities increase from 65-69 to 80-84 and then declines through ages 90+ whereas the percentage getting help with such activities increases from 11% of 65-69 year olds to nearly 62% of 90+ year olds. With respect to household activities, reports of difficulty but no help increase through age 70-79 (peaking at 13.6%) before declining to under 6% for those 90+, as the proportion receiving help increases.

TABLE 2. Percentage of the 65 and Older Population with Self-Care, Mobility, and Household Activity Limitations: By Five-Year Age Groups
 
  65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84 85-89 90+
Self-care and mobility limitationsa,b
Difficulty, but no help 17.1 17.7 19.1 21.8 19.1 14.6
Help 11.0 12.9 18.1 26.1 41.8 61.7
Household activity limitationsc
Difficulty, but no help 12.2 13.6 13.6 12.5 10.8 5.7
Help for health or functioning reasons 12.3 14.6 23.9 34.2 54.1 73.1
Any limitations
Difficulty, but no help 19.6 20.7 21.0 21.2 16.5 9.3
Help 15.8 18.8 27.5 38.2 58.5 76.0
Population (in millions) 11.6 8.9 6.9 5.4 3.4 1.9
Unweighted n 1417 1610 1569 1590 1067 824
SOURCE: 2011 NHATS; N=8077.
NOTES:
a. Bathing, dressing, eating, toileting.
b. Getting out of bed, getting around inside one’s home or building, or leaving one’s home or building.
c. Laundry, hot meals, shopping for personal items, paying bills/banking, handling medications.

When all activities are considered (bottom panel), the proportion with difficulty but receiving no help is fairly stable at about 20% until age 85, at which point the proportion receiving help begins to rise more rapidly. The percentage receiving help with at least one activity rises from less than 16% of adults ages 65-69 to more than 75% of those age 90 and older.

 

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