More Middle-aged Americans Reporting Mobility Disabilities

More older, middle-aged Americans are reporting serious mobility-related disabilities and difficulties performing activities of daily living than ever before.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation and the University of Michigan looked at responses to the ‰ÛÏ1997 to 2007 National Health Interview Survey,‰Û and found a significant increase in the number of 50 to 64-year-olds with mobility issues. Roughly 40% reported having difficulties in at least one of nine physical functions measured by the survey. They also noted a rise in the proportion of older middle-aged adults needing personal care assistance for back or neck problems, diabetes, and depression, anxiety or emotional problems.

The reasons for the trend are unknown, but the findings run counter to a decline in similar mobility issues among seniors aged 65 and older. While overall, only 2% of people in the 50 to 64-year-old age group do require personal care help, the significant increase ‰ÛÏdoes not bode well for future trends for the 65 and older population,‰Û according to lead author Linda Martin. The report appears in Health Affairs.

I surmise that people 65+ at some point were confronted with a problem that begged taking care of and which may have scared them into healthier behaviors. My fear for the people my age, the 45-65 set, is that they tend to not want to take care of themselves because they believe if they get sick there will be a pill for fit, a procedure for it or a device for it. This tendency to ignore our own self-responsibility for our health is a scary one. That is why health reform is being fought. It does after all mean more out of our pockets most likely especially if we do not start taking better care of ourselves.