Changes in Elderly Disability Rates and the Implications for Health Care Utilization and Cost

Recent research indicates declining age-adjusted chronic disability among older Americans, which might moderate health care costs in the coming decades. This study examines the trend’s underlying components using data from the 1984-1999 National Long-Term Care Surveys to better understand the reasons for the declines and potential implications for acute and long-term care. The reductions occurred primarily for activities like financial management and shopping. Assistance with personal care activities associated with greater frailty fell less, and independence with assistive devices rose. Institutional residence was stable. More needs to be known about the extent to which these declines reflect environmental improvements allowing greater independence at any level of health, rather than improvements in health, before concluding that the declines will mean lower costs.

Author(s): Brenda C. Spillman

Read on Wiley Online Library

Read on JSTOR

Volume 82, Issue 1 (pages 157–194)
DOI: 10.1111/j.0887-378X.2004.00305.x
Published in 2004