Only about a third of Americans ages 65 and older are fully able to manage all daily activities independently, according to new research from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS). Another 30 percent are able to accommodate declining health or functioning by using assistive devices or scaling back their activities, 18 percent have trouble managing even with any devices they may use, and 21 percent receive help. These findings are based on innovative data NHATS collected for a nationally representative sample of 8,077 older Medicare beneficiaries. The data allow a more nuanced look at late life function than previously has been possible and can contribute to better understanding of ways older adults adapt to disability and to development of public health policies to maximize the quality of life for older Americans.
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