The contribution of chronic conditions to aggregate changes in old-age functioning
Freedman,Vicki A.; Martin,Linda G.
American Journal of Public Health 90(11): 1755-1760
Publication date: 2000
This study explored the role of various chronic conditions inexplaining recent improvements in functioning among older Americans.
We used the Supplements on Aging to the 1984 and 1994 NationalHealth Interview Surveys to examine changes among Americans 70 years andolder in reports of chronic conditions and functional limitations. Wedecomposed functioning changes into condition-related components,controlling for demographic shifts.
The percentage of olderAmericans with upper- and lower-body limitations declined from 5.1% and34.2%, respectively, in 1984 to 4.3% and 28.5% in 1995, and the averagenumber of lower body limitations decreased. During the same period, reportsof 8 of 9 chronic conditions increased, but many of these conditions hadless debilitating effects on functioning. Reductions in the debilitatingeffects of various chronic conditions--particularly arthritis--areimportant in explaining declines in limitations experienced by olderAmericans.
Earlier diagnosis and improved treatment andmanagement of chronic conditions, rather than prevention, may be importantcontributing factors to improvements in upper- and lower-body functioningamong older Americans.