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Middle-aged Americans reporting more mobility related disabilities, study finds
Date:4/5/2010

p>There also was a significant increase in the proportion of people who reported needing help with personal care activities of daily living such as getting in or out of bed or getting around inside their homes.

"This a disappointing trend with potentially far-reaching and long-term negative consequences," said Richard Suzman, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study. "If people have such difficulties in middle age, how can we expect that this age group -- today's baby boomers -- will be able to take care of itself with advancing age? If it continues, this trend could have a significant effect on the need for long-term care in the future."

From 1997 to 2007, increasing proportions of people aged 50 to 64 attributed their need for help to back or neck problems, diabetes, and depression, anxiety or emotional problems. By 2005-07, the most common causes for needing help were these ailments plus arthritis or rheumatism. People who reported these conditions as causes were most likely to report that the ailments started at ages 30 to 49 years.

The reported increases in conditions causing disability may reflect real deterioration of health or improved awareness of conditions as a result of diagnosis and treatment. It also could be that improved medical care has extended the lives of people whose disabilities began early in life and who might have not survived to age 50 in earlier decades.

Despite continuing concerns about obesity in the United States, those needing help did not cite obesity as an important cause of their limitations.

"We have this uptick of people in their 50s and early 60s who say they need help with their daily activities of living and we're not sure why," said study co-author Vicki A. Freedman, a research professor at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. "But the patterns suggest the need for prevention
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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