THURSDAY, Feb. 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Substantial declines were seen in the odds of activities of daily living (ADL) limitations and functional limitations (FLs) among older Americans from 2008 to 2017, according to a study published online Feb. 2 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined temporal trends in the prevalence and odds of ADL limitations and FLs among adults aged 65 years and older in a secondary analysis of the American Community Survey conducted for 10 consecutive waves (2008 to 2017). Data were included for 5.4 million respondents. The question relating to ADLs was whether the person had difficulty bathing or dressing, and the question relating to FLs was whether the person had serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.

The researchers found that over the decade, there were substantial declines in the prevalence of ADL limitation and FL, from 12.1 to 9.6 percent and from 27.3 to 23.5 percent, respectively. If 2017 prevalence levels had remained at the 2008 prevalence rate, an additional 1.27 million and 1.89 million older Americans would have had ADL limitations and FLs, respectively. The odds of decline for both ADL limitations and FLs were attenuated substantially with adjustment for educational attainment.

“It would be of enormous financial and social benefit to the United States if the decline in the prevalence of FLs and ADL limitations among older adults continues unabated in the decades to come,” the authors write.

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