A Profile of Older Americans: 2002
Health, Health Care, and Disability
2000, 27.0% of older persons assessed their heath as fair or poor
(compared to 9.0% for all persons). There was little difference
between the sexes on this measure, but older African-Americans
(41.6%) and older Hispanics (35.1%) were much more likely to rate
their health as fair or poor than were older Whites (26%).****
on activities because of chronic conditions increase with age.
In 2000, among those 65-74 years old, 26.1 percent reported a
limitation caused by a chronic condition.
In contrast, almost half (45.1%) of those 75 years and
over reported they were limited by chronic conditions.
1997, more than half of the older population (54.5%) reported
having at least one disability of some type (physical or nonphysical).
Over a third (37.7%) reported at least one severe disability.
Over 4.5 million (14.2%) had difficulty in carrying out activities
of daily living (ADLs) and 6.9 million (21.6%) reported difficulties
with instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). This
is in sharp contrast to the much lower levels in the 25-64 populations
of ADL difficulties (2.8%) and IADL difficulties (4%).
[ADLs include bathing, dressing, eating, and getting around
the house. IADLs include preparing meals, shopping, managing money,
using the telephone, doing housework, and taking medication].
percentages with disabilities increase sharply with age (Figure
8). Disability takes a much heavier toll on the very old. Almost
three-fourths (73.6%) of those aged 80+ report at least one disability.
Over half (57.6%) of those aged 80+ had one or more severe disabilities
and 34.9% of the 80+ population reported needing assistance as
a result of disability. There is a strong relationship between disability status and
reported health status.
Among those 65+ with a severe disability, 68.0% reported
their health as fair or poor.
Among the 65+ persons who reported no disability, only
10.5% reported their health as fair or poor.
Presence of a severe disability is also associated with
lower income levels and educational attainment.
Figure 8: Percent With Disabilities, By Age:
older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have
multiple conditions. The most frequently occurring conditions
per 100 elderly in 1996 were: arthritis (49), hypertension (36),
hearing impairments (30), heart disease (27), cataracts (17),
orthopedic impairments (18), sinusitis (12), and diabetes (10).
people had about four times the number of days of hospitalization
(1.8 days) as did the under 65 aged population (0.4 days) in 2000.
The average length of a hospital stay was 6.4 days for older people,
compared to only 4.6 days for all people. The average length of
stay for older people has decreased 6 days since 1964. Older persons
averaged more contacts with doctors in 2000 than did persons of
all ages (7.0 contacts vs. 3.7 contacts).
2000, older consumers averaged $3,493 in out-of-pocket health
care expenditures, an increase of more than half since 1990. In
contrast, the total population spent considerably less, averaging
$2,182 in out-of-pocket costs. Older Americans spent 12.6%of their
total expenditures on health, more than twice the proportion spent
by all consumers (5.5%). Health costs incurred on average by older
consumers in 2000 consisted of $1,775 (51%) for insurance, $884
(25%) for drugs, $693 (20%) for medical services, and $142 (4%)
for medical supplies.
Health United States: 2002; Current Population Reports, "Americans
with Disabilities, 1997" P70-73, February 2001 and related Internet
data; Internet releases of the Census Bureau, the National Center
on Health Statistics; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics)
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