By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

WebMD reports that Baby boomers are entering their 60s just in time for a new trend: disability.

One in five 60-somethings need help with basic daily activities—up from 13% just a decade ago. Various disabilities are up 40% to 70% in 60- to 69-year-olds, UCLA researcher Teresa E. Seeman, PhD, and colleagues find.

Seeman’s team analyzed federal disability data collected from people over age 60 in 1988 to 1994 and in 1999 to 2004. The most recent data therefore captures only a few of those born during the baby boom of 1946 to 1964.

But the trends bode ill for boomers, according to the article.

Compared with those surveyed in 1988 to 1994, 60-somethings surveyed in 1999-2004 were:

  • 70% more likely to have difficulty walking from room to room, getting in and out of bed, and/or eating and dressing.
  • 70% more likely to have difficulty doing chores, preparing meals, and/or managing money
  • 50% more likely to have difficulty walking a quarter mile and/or walking up 10 steps without rest
  • 40% more likely to have difficulty stooping, crouching, or kneeling; lifting or carrying 10 pounds; and/or standing from an armless chair.

Not surprisingly, given the ongoing obesity epidemic, people who entered their 60s from 1999 to 2004 were much more likely to be obese, to have a too-large waist size, and to get less exercise than those who turned 60 from 1988-1994, says the article.

Disability was significantly more likely among obese or overweight 60-somethings and among African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans. But neither health status, health behavior, race, or ethnicity—taken separately or together—fully explained the trend toward more disability.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

[Source: WebMD]