Veteran Status and Transitions in Functional Conditions in Older Americans

Xian Liu, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
Charles Engel, Jr., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
Han Kang, Department of Veterans Affairs

This research examines the relationship between veteran status and functional condition transitions among older Americans age 70 years or older. Data used for this study come from the Survey of Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). The research decomposes the effect of veteran status (veterans versus non-veterans) into the direct effect and the indirect effects by means of physical health conditions and mental disorders on transitions from two origin states, "not disabled" and "disabled," to three destination states, "not disabled," "disabled," and "dead." We found that veterans have higher mortality than their non-veteran counterparts, and this excess mortality increases considerably over age and is elevated among those functionally disabled at baseline. Additionally, older veterans are less likely than non-veterans to recover from disability once having it. Many of the mechanisms in these relationships are not captured by variations in health status, especially among the Oldest Old.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging