Disability and Recovery

Christine Himes, Syracuse University

There is well documented evidence that later life disability has declined over the past two decades. In addition, there is evidence that some older adults recover functional abilities between waves of longitudinal surveys. The reasons for recovery, the extent of recovery, and the correlates of recovery are poorly understood. This research examines the factors associated with the recovery of functional abilities. Does recovery vary by ADL? Are some “easier” to recover than others? Are some ADL limitations more strongly related to mortality than others? Do the associated chronic conditions vary by ADL and by recovery? That is, are some diseases “easier” to recover from? Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, I look at the extent to which respondents report improvements in functioning overall, and by specific function and activity. Preliminary results indicate that the odds of recovery vary by both underlying health condition and type of limitation.

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Presented in Session 75: The Demography and Biodemography of Aging, Disability, Health and Longevity