In the study, which will be published in the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the division of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that the cohort of individuals between the ages of 60 and 69 exhibited increases in several types of disabilities over time.
By contrast, those between the ages of 70 and 79 and those aged 80 and over saw no significant increases — and in some cases exhibited fewer disabilities than their previous cohorts.
While the study focused on groups born prior to the post–World War II Baby Boom, the findings hold "significant and sobering implications" for health care because they suggest that people now entering their 60s could have even more disabilities, putting an added burden on an already fragile system and boosting health costs for society as a whole, researchers say.
If this is true, it's something we need to address," said Teresa Seeman, UCLA professor of medicine and epidemiology and the study's principal investigator. "If this trend continues unchecked, it will put increasing pressure on our society to take care of these disabled individuals. This would just put more of a burden on the health care system to address the higher levels of these problems."
The researchers used two sets of data — the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) for 1988 and 1999� — to examine how disabilities for the three groups of adults aged 60, 70, and 80 and older had changed over time. They assessed disability trends in four areas: basic activities associated with daily living, such as walking from room to room and getting into and out of bed; instrumental activities, such as performing household chores or preparing meals; mobility, including walking one-quarter mile or climbing 10 steps without stopping for rest; and functional limitations, which include stooping, crouching or kneeling.
The study focused primarily on trends for the more recent 60 age group — those born between 1930 and 1944, just before the start of the Baby Boom, whose data was included in the 1999� NHANES. In particular, researchers felt this group could offer insights into the health of the Boomers following them, who are now entering their 60s.
The researchers found that between the periods 1988 and 1999�, disability among those in their 60s increased between 40 and 70 percent in each area studied except functional limitations, independent of sociodemographic characteristics, health status and behaviors, and relative weight. The increases were considerably higher among non-white and overweight subgroups.
By contrast, the researchers found no significant changes among the group aged 70 to 79, while the 80-plus group actually saw a drop in functional limitations.
One reason for this uptick, researchers say, is that disabilities may be linked with the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the group that recently reached or will soon be reaching its 60s, with the most rapid growth projected to be among African Americans and Hispanics — groups with significantly higher rates of obesity and lower socioeconomic status, both of which are associated with higher risk for functional limitations and disabilities.
The researchers note that their controls for differences in sociodemographics, health status (such as chronic conditions and biological risk factors) and health behavior do not completely explain the increase in disability trends among the 60- to 69-year olds. Still, the trends within that group "are disturbing," Seeman said.
"Increases in disability in that group are concerning because it's a big group," she said. "These may be people who have longer histories of being overweight, and we may be seeing the consequences of that. We're not sure why these disabilities are going up. But if this trend continues, it could have a major impact on us, due to the resources that will have to be devoted to those people."
Study co-authors included Arun Karlamangla and Sharon Merkin, of UCLA's geriatrics division, and Eileen Crimmins, of the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California.
The National Institute on Aging funded this study.
The UCLA Division of Geriatrics within the department of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA offers comprehensive outpatient and inpatient services at several convenient locations and works closely with other UCLA programs to improve and maintain the quality of life of seniors. UCLA geriatricians are specialists in managing the overall health of people age 65 and older and treating medical disorders that frequently affect the elderly, including falls and immobility, urinary incontinence, memory loss and dementia, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. UCLA geriatricians can knowledgably consider and address a broad spectrum of health-related factors — including medical, psychological and social — when treating patients.
For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom or follow us on Twitter.
Enrique Rivero | EurekAlert!
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences