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Thursday, August 1, 2013

High Disability Rates Persist in Old Age

Aging and "late life disability" is an an increasing trend. Injured workers' are surviving longer making total disability claims and Medicare involvement an increasing factor in adjudication and settlement of workers' compensation claims. Today's post was shared by The New Old Age and comes from

Weird berries. Capsules of unpronounceable supplements. Yoga or tai chi. Crossword puzzles. Such amulets, we’re told, may ward off disability — which is the real fear that accompanies aging, isn’t it? Not the sheer number of years that will have passed, but the things we’ll no longer be able to do.

But our efforts to dodge disability appear to be falling short. Gerontologists once hoped for a “compression of morbidity”; the idea was that we could remain healthy and active until our bodies fail at advanced ages, and we swiftly died. But new research shows that this has not materialized for most of the elderly. The price we’re paying for extended life spans is a high rate of late-life disability.

The latest evidence comes from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, who combed through 15 years of data from the national Health and Retirement Study to determine disability rates in the final two years of people’s lives.

“Despite massive investment in geriatric medicine, we can sometimes delay or slow down disability, but we can’t prevent it,” said Dr. Alex Smith, a palliative care specialist and lead author of the study, published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. “A vast majority of people who live to older ages live with disability or a mobility problem in the last years of life, and for women it’s even more likely.”

The numbers, based on interviews with more than 8,200...

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