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African-American women develop functional challenges earlier than others
Date:9/26/2011

onclusions from a comparative analysis of 8,701 people between the ages of 53 and 75, who answered questions over seven biennial waves (1994-2006) in the U.S. Health and Retirement Study.

Disabilities were measured from answers to self-reported survey questions that assessed mobility, strength and upper and lower body functional limitations. They also examined information about early life experiences, adult social economic status, marriage and health-related behaviors to determine what influence these might have on disabilities.

Statistical analyses of survey responses showed emerging patterns in the functional health of these seniors.

Early life events, adult socioeconomic status, marital status and health behaviors explained disparities in the limitations men experienced, but didn't do so as clearly for women.

Aging White men overall started out with less than one disabling limitation on average, but every year slightly increased until age 75 when they had slightly more than two.

Mexican-American women, who fared the worst, reached 75 with twice as many physical limitations on average as White mennearly five.

Mexican-American men, African-American men, White men and White women did not vary significantly in the rate at which they developed disabilities as they aged. However, African-American women gained more disabilities early on. After their mid-60s, the rate of disabilities began to decrease. By age 75, it appeared the pace of acquiring disabilities had stabilized.

Warner said new information about physical health changes with age emerged when race/ethnicity and gender were jointly examined.

According to the researchers, this study's findings demonstrate the need for health-preventions efforts aimed at eliminating functional health disparities overall, but also point to the need for further research and interventions that address the unique health experiences of African American wom
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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