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J Am Med Womens Assoc (1972). 1997 Summer;52(3):113-20.

The impact of disability in older women.

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  • 1Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry Program, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, MD, USA.


As the size of the older population grows and mortality rates continue to decline, an unprecedented number of women will live to very old age. Recent research has provided a better understanding of the impact of disability in the older population, risk factors for disability, and the consequences of disability. Older women have consistently been found to have higher prevalence rates of disability than men of the same age. This difference does not result from women developing disability more often than men, but rather surviving longer with their disabilities. This effect may be explained at least in part by the differences in the diseases underlying disability in older women and men. Interventions that can reduce the burden of disability in the aging population are now being explored. In the next century, it will be increasingly important to develop new prevention and treatment strategies that address the functional consequences of chronic disease in the population of women living to older and older ages.

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