NIA: 40 Percent of Seniors Report Having a Disability

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NIA: 40 Percent of Seniors Report Having a Disability
NIA: 40 Percent of Seniors Report Having a Disability

(HealthDay News) -- Nearly 40 percent of Americans over the age of 65 -- about 16 million people -- live with at least one disability, according to a new National Institute on Aging report.

The report, released Tuesday, presents U.S. Census data from 2008 to 2012. The researchers found that people older than 85 accounted for 25.4 percent of all disabilities among seniors, although they represented only 13.6 percent of the overall senior population. Seniors aged 65 to 74 accounted for 37 percent of seniors with disabilities, while those aged 75 to 84 accounted for 37.6 percent. Women accounted for almost two-thirds (59 percent) of the seniors with disabilities. However, older men were far more likely than older women to have serious hearing problems -- 52.0 versus 32.3 percent. Other seniors more likely to have a disability included those with less than a high school education, those who lived alone or lived in or near poverty, and those who were widowed.

The report focused on six types of disability, including problems involving hearing, sight, thinking and memory, walking, self-care, and independent living. The most common type of disability was difficulty walking or climbing stairs, which was reported by two-thirds (66.5 percent) of seniors with a disability. Other common types of disability included problems with independent living (47.8 percent) and hearing problems (40.4 percent). The good news was that 61.3 percent of seniors didn't have any of the six types of disability measured in the report.

While 15.9 percent of seniors had at least one disability, 8.0 percent had at least two and 14.7 percent had three or more disabilities. Three or more types of disability were reported by 7.0 percent of those aged 65 to 74, 16.5 percent of those aged 75 to 84, and 41.5 percent of those older than 85. "Disability can be reduced with improved medical treatment, positive behavioral changes, wider use of assistive technologies, rising education levels, and improvements in socioeconomic status," according to the report.

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