Longitudinal Impact of Specific Health Conditions on Functional Limitations of Older Americans

Xian Liu, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
Charles Engel, Jr., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS)
Han Kang, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

This study analyzes the longitudinal impact of several specific health conditions on functional limitations of older Americans. The research, building upon a newly developed two-stage longitudinal model, uses data from six waves of the Survey of Asset and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). We model the longitudinal influences of five serious health conditions (hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke) and arthritis on an older American’s number of functional limitations. Analytic results demonstrate an inverse-U shaped nonlinear pattern of transitions in the number of functional limitations for each of the health conditions considered in the analysis. Those with stroke, diabetes and heart disease have higher number of functional limitations at most observation time points than do those with other health conditions. While the presence of each condition has strong adverse impact, comorbidity exerts an even more significant influence on an older American’s functional disability.

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Presented in Poster Session 2