Why Do So Many Elderly Women Struggle with Disabilities in California?
Posted on Jul 30, 2013
According to Dr. Alex Smith, a palliative care specialist and lead author of a study examining the state of disabilities in the elderly community, “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 study, published this July in JAMA Internal Medicine, was completed by the University of California, San Francisco, reveals a predominance of disability issues for elderly people, especially women.
More than 28 percent of individuals who die over the age 50 find themselves dealing with disabilities in the last two years of life, meaning that they need help with a basic daily activity such as getting dressed or using the bathroom. About 12 percent needed help with at least three activities of this nature, qualifying them for a severe disability.
More difficulties for women
Statistically, women live longer lives. As people get older, the likelihood of disability increases, though that’s not the only factor contributing to the problem. “A woman who dies at 80 has a longer period of disability than a man who dies at 80,” says Dr. Ken Covinsky, a geriatrician who co-authored the study.
Other contributing factors include:
- Women have greater vulnerability to disabling issues like osteoporosis, arthritis or depression.
- Women are less likely to have in-house help when they are elderly, as they are more likely to live alone.
- Women have lower household wealth, a significant contributor to disability.
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