Low Income Older Americans Have More Physical Limitations Than Wealthier Peers
Low-income Americans aged 55 to 84 are more likely to suffer limitations in their physical activities than their wealthier peers.
Thornton: According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, low-income Americans aged 55 to 84 are more likely to suffer limitations in their physical activities than their wealthier peers. The study also found that adults aged 55 to 64 who live below the poverty line were six times more likely to say they experience functional limitations-such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying-than the wealthiest group in the study. Furthermore, the study showed that the odds of having these functional limitations drops with each incremental increase in income, up to age 84. Dr. Jack Guralnik, acting chief of the Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry at the NIA, talked about ways of translating these study results into ways to improve the living standards for older adults.
Guralnik: We have to first of all improve people's understanding and appreciation for the fact that people who do have lower income — in general, lower socioeconomic status — are at greater risk of mortality of many conditions that are important in old age and also disability. In order to actually intervene in lower income people we need to develop programs that really can focus on them that have specific capabilities to reach lower income individuals and to specifically meet their needs.
Thornton: The study showed that the rate of disability decreased one to two percent each year during the 80s and 90s when trends were last reported. The rate of decline was smaller among those in the poorest socioeconomic groups. The results of this research can be found in the August 17th issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Matt Thornton in Bethesda Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Matt Thornton
Sound Bite: Dr. Jack Guralnik