Boomers with disabilities are on the rise, a trend which, surprisingly, contrasts with a decrease in disabilities for people 65 and older.
Over 40 percent of people between 50 and 64 have trouble with at least one of nine physical functions, the study found, especially mobility-related functions.
“This is a disappointing trend with potentially far-reaching and long-term negative consequences,” said Richard Suzman, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute on Aging. “If people have such difficulties in middle age, how can we expect that this age group — today’s baby boomers — will be able to take care of itself with advancing age? If it continues, this trend could have a significant effect on the need for long-term care in the future.”
According to the study, by 2007 the most common causes for needing help getting around were arthritis or rheumatism, as well as back or neck problems, diabetes, and depression, anxiety or emotional problems. Furthermore, people who named these conditions as a reason they needed help with daily activities were more likely to say the condition started between ages 30 and 49.
The study, which was funded by National Institute on Aging, is based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual survey conducted among as many as 15,000 people between 1997 and 2007.