It’s no surprise that as we age, we require more help with the activities of daily living (ADLs), like dressing and bathing. But a new study just published has found the amount of assistance necessary for ADL care has risen sharply as life spans have increased. Reported in an article on Alfa.org, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, studied those seniors needing assistance with ADLs, which for their study they defined as “disabled.”
The study showed disability increased from 14 percent in people who died from ages 50 to 69 to 50 percent in those who died at 90 or older. The researchers’ intent was to find a national estimate of disability levels during the last two years of a senior’s life. In addition to the increase in disability between the two age groups, the study reports a major increase in disability levels in those last two years before death, as high as 68 percent. Significantly, the research showed women had a 50 percent greater risk of becoming disabled during the last two years of life than men.
The article emphasized that due to the population of adults in the U.S. over age 85 predicted to triple from 5.4 million to 19 million between 2008 and 2050, the number of caregivers and the senior care and housing industry growth required will have to vastly escalate to accommodate the increasing need for disability assistance in the elderly.
As the authors of the study summed up, “It is important for our healthcare system and society to plan better for the increase in end-of-life disability that is inevitable in an aging population. Our healthcare systems are designed to pay for disease management and are sorely unprepared to meet the needs that stem from disability.”