Disability-Free Life Expectancy Over 30 Years: A Growing Female Disadvantage in the US Population

Journal Article

Disability-Free Life Expectancy Over 30 Years: A Growing Female Disadvantage in the US Population

Abstract

Older women in the United States have long enjoyed an advantage over men in the number of years lived without disabilities. Results in this study of mortality and disability trends for men and women ages 65 and older indicate that the advantage disappeared from 1982 to 2011. Data are from the 1982 and 2004 National Long Term Care Survey and the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study. For older men, longevity increased, disability was postponed, and the percentage of remaining life spent active increased. However, for older women, small longevity increases were accompanied by smaller postponements in disability and stagnation of active life as a percentage of life expectancy. As a consequence, older women no longer live more active years than men, despite living longer lives. Public health measures directed at older women to postpone disability may be needed to offset long-term care pressures related to population aging.

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