Older adults with physical or cognitive limitations live in a variety of settings from traditional community housing to nursing homes. This analysis of data from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study provides new estimates of the older population across settings and examines unmet needs for assistance. Of 38.1 million Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 or older, 2.5 million live in retirement/senior housing communities, nearly 1 million in independent- and 1 million in assisted-living settings, and 1.1 million in nursing homes. The prevalence of assistance is higher and physical and cognitive capacity lower in each successive setting. Unmet needs are common in traditional housing (31%), but most prevalent in retirement/senior housing (37%) and assisted living settings (42%). Different resident characteristics account for some of the differences across settings, but after controls for individual characteristics, those in retirement/senior housing still have a higher likelihood of unmet needs than those in traditional community. Prevalent unmet needs older adults with limitations across all settings and warrant further investigation and monitoring.
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