Most People 65 and Older Need Help, Study Finds

According to a new disability study, two-thirds of people 65 and older need help to perform what are known as the activities of daily living (showering or bathing, eating, dressing, getting out of bed or a chair, walking and using the toilet). Help can take the form of using scooters, grab bars, canes or other people to stay well-functioning.

While not surprising, this large figure is significant. It should give public health experts better insight into the needs of this older group-which may translate into better quality of life.

canes as assistive devices, disability studyThe study was released online in the American Journal of Public Health. Data for the research came from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends study that surveyed 8,000 Medicare enrollees age 65 and over; about 500 lived in nursing homes.

Researchers divided participants into five categories: people who could get around and care for themselves without any help; those who used devices or something else to work around their disability; people who cut back on activities but were independent; people who still had trouble doing activities themselves even with special devices; and those getting help from someone else.

>> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter

One noteworthy statistic: While 90 percent could feed themselves independently, half needed help bathing.  Other highlights of the study:

  • 31 percent could take care of themselves completely, 25 percent were living independently with some assistive device (a cane, grab bars), 21 percent relied on other people, 18 percent had trouble performing regular tasks even with some kind of help and 6 percent reduced their activities due to their disability.
  • 45 percent of those ages 65 to 69 didn’t need any kind of help, compared to just 4 percent of those 90 and older.
  • People with lower incomes used assistive devices less often to help with a disability.
  • Whites and Asians used assistive devices more than blacks and Hispanics.

Photo courtesy of via Google images

Sally Abrahms writes about caregiving, housing and age 50+ work. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


>> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.

Also of Interest


See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more