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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Sep;49(9):1176-84.

Assistance with personal care activities among the old-old in Israel: a national epidemiological study.

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Herczeg Institute on Aging, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.



The objectives of this study were to (1) estimate rates of difficulty, need for assistance, and receipt of assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) among the old-old in Israel; (2) describe the living arrangements of the dependent old-old; and (3) gain insight into the caregiving provided to the disabled members of this population.


A random stratified sample of 1,820 subjects age 75 to 94 selected from the National Population Register (NPR), a complete listing of the Israeli population maintained by the Ministry of the Interior. The study sample consisted of Jews living in Israel on January 1, 1989, stratified by age (four 5-year age groups: 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94), sex, and place of birth (Europe-America, Middle East/North Africa, Israel).


National sample of old-old Jewish Israelis.


One thousand eight hundred twenty Israelis age 75 to 94 who were living in the community or in institutions at the time of the baseline interview.


Participants' disability status was classified in terms of difficulty with, needing help with, and receiving help with any of five ADLs (washing/bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting, and eating). Only those receiving assistance from a person (as opposed to a device) were considered to be receiving help. The independent variables used included sociodemographic, health, and social network characteristics of the participants.


Twenty-one percent of those age 75 to 94 were found to be receiving personal assistance with at least one ADL. The most dependent were those age 90 to 94, women, those born in the Middle East or North Africa, and those living in an institution. Among those dependent in one or more ADLs, the overall community:institutionalized ratio was 2.4:1. Those who were dependent in three to five ADLs were about twice as likely to live in an institution as were those who were dependent in one or two ADLs. The Middle Eastern/North African born were more likely to be dependent, and at any given level of disability were more likely to be living in the community with a child and receiving the majority of their caretaking from the informal sector, primarily their family.


We conclude that the families of disabled older people, particularly the Middle Eastern/North African born, provide a great deal of care for their older relatives despite the availability of a full range of services, providing no evidence of withdrawal of family care when state home and institutional care are available. This finding may imply underutilization of services, which should be investigated further to determine if it is caused by barriers to utilization or by the free choice of the disabled old-old and their families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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