and Medicine for Seniors
Mobility is most common disability
for American senior citizens
disability rates for seniors in Southern counties, especially central
Appalachia and Mississippi Delta
See chart below
story showing this information by age and sex.
How the ACS Measures Disability
ACS questions cover six disability types:
or having serious difficulty hearing.
or having serious difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses.
of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, having difficulty
remembering, concentrating, or making decisions.
serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
difficulty bathing or dressing.
Independent living difficulty—
because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem, having
difficulty doing errands alone, such as visiting a doctor’s
office or shopping.
Respondents who report any one of the six disability types are
considered to have a disability.
ACS identifies serious difficulty with four basic areas of
functioning—hearing, vision, cognition, and ambulation. The ACS
supplements the functional limitations with questions about
selected activities from the Katz Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
- difficulty dressing and bathing; and from the Lawton
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) scales -
difficulty performing errands, such as visiting a doctor’s
office or shopping. However, the ACS does not gather information
on the severity or timing of onset of the disability, or on the
use of technology or assistance.
Dec. 2, 2014 - Nearly 40 percent of
people age 65 and older had at least one disability, according to a U.S.
Census Bureau report that covered the period 2008 to 2012. Of those 15.7
million people, two-thirds of them say they had difficulty in walking or
Difficulty with independent living,
such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping, was the second-most
cited disability, followed by serious difficulty in hearing, cognitive
difficulty, difficulty bathing or dressing, and serious difficulty
The oldest old - those aged 85 and older - had the
highest prevalence of disability. While this group represented 13.6
percent of the total older population, they accounted for 25.4 percent
of those with a disability.
While populous states such as
California, Florida, New York and Texas had the largest number of older
people with a disability, high disability rates were seen in Southern
counties, especially in central Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta.
Older Americans With a Disability:
2008-2012, a report based on data collected during the
American Community Survey,
examines disability status by age, sex and selected socio-economic
characteristics, such as marital status, living arrangement, educational
attainment and poverty status.
“The statistics provided in this
report can help anticipate future disability prevalence in the older
population,” said Wan He, a demographer from the Census Bureau’s
“The figures can be used to help
the older population with a disability, their families, and society
at-large plan strategies and prepare for daily life tasks and old-age
● More than half (54.4 percent)
of the older population who had not graduated from high school had a
disability, twice the rate of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher
(26.0 percent). This inverse relationship between educational attainment
and likelihood of having a disability was found across age, sex, race
and Hispanic origin.
● More than one-third of those
85 and older with a disability lived alone, compared with one-fourth of
those age 65 to 74.
● About 13 percent of the older
household population with a disability lived in poverty; in contrast, 7
percent of those without a disability were in poverty.
● The older population with a
disability was disproportionately concentrated among those 85 and older.
This group represented 13.6 percent of the total older population but
accounted for 25.4 percent of the older population with a disability.
● Women 65 and older were more
likely than men 65 and older to have five of the six types of disability
included in the American Community Survey, especially ambulatory
difficulty. Older women’s higher rates for disability are, in part,
because women live longer.
● Older men’s higher likelihood
for having a hearing disability may reflect the lifelong occupational
differentials between men and women, where men may be more likely to
have worked in industries that cause noise-induced hearing loss.
● Disability rates were lower
for married older people than for those widowed or in other categories
of marital status
The Division of Behavioral and
Social Research at the National Institute on Aging of the National
Institutes of Health commissioned this report and also supports other
Census Bureau reports on aging research.
American Community Survey
The American Community Survey is
the only source of small area estimates for social and demographic
characteristics. It gives communities the current information they need
to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police
departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and
public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results. Visit
Stats in Action page to see some