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A growing demographic: Older Americans with disabilities

December 23, 2014
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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In 2011, the first members of the Baby Boom generation turned 65 and entered the ranks of the elderly. A new report from the National Institute on Aging takes a look at the challenges that this surge in population demands.

The study was a compilation of American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2008–2012. Findings show that nearly 16 million Americans over age 65, or 40 percent, live with at least one disability. Survey questions focused on six types of disability:

  • Hearing difficulty
  • Vision difficulty
  • Cognitive difficulty
  • Ambulatory difficulty
  • Self-care difficulty and
  • Independent living difficulty

A majority of those surveyed (approx. 60 percent) claimed no disability. For nearly 40 percent of those who responded as having a disability, the most common was difficulty walking and/or stair climbing.

Women with disabilities outnumbered men. But men were found to be the most likely to experience serious hearing problems (52 percent) compared to women (32 percent). This, the researchers said, could be due to occupational factors. Men may have worked in noisy manufacturing/construction environments that could have cause hearing loss over the years.

Nearly half of seniors with disabilities lived in nine of the most populous states: California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina.

The report also ranked seniors with disabilities by education, race, marital status and living arrangement.


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