Trends in Selected Health Dimensions among the U.S. Elderly, 1982-1999

Peiyun She, University of California, Berkeley

This paper estimates and analyzes levels and trends in selected health dimensions (i.e., chronic conditions, sensory limitations, functional limitations, ADL disability, and IADL disability) among the US non-institutionalized elderly, using detailed data from the National Long Term Care Surveys (NLTCS) for 1982 to 1999. This paper also compares trends using measures that include the use of assistive devices versus measures that do not. The generalized estimating equation (GEE) approach is then adopted to examine whether there are significant time trends in various measures after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, and whether there are differences in the probability of having various limitations among the sociodemographic groups. The results show evidence of improved health and declined disability. Moreover, whether to include the use of assistive devices in the definition greatly affects the levels and trends of selected sensory limitations and ADLs. The effectiveness of assistive devices in reducing disability is suggested. Significant differences have also been found for most sociodemographic groups for various measures.

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Presented in Session 111: Demography of Disability