Trends in Disability Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:06:56
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Category: Disability

Type of paper: Essay

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Trends in disability is one the most studied areas in health care, especially in the elderly, because the disabled require much more care and money than do non-disabled people.  There are multiples types of disabilities, ranging from the most severe, ADL (activities of daily living), which includes an inability to perform self-care, like dressing, feeding, and toileting.  IADL (instrumental activities of daily living) is less severe, and includes an inability to use a telephone or transportation, or to prepare meals (and other daily chores that require getting around).

Since the 1980s, studies have shown a reduction in IADL disabilities.  The elderly are reporting less trouble with doing everyday tasks, like housework or shopping.  The less severe the disability, the more it seems to have improved over this time period.

ADL disabilities, which are more severe, have not reduced over this period very much, although some studies show a slight reduction beginning in the 90s.

In general, the US has seen a reduction in disabilities since the 1990s, based on several studies and literature reviews that were conducted.

Reasons for this decrease include better health care, better lifestyles (more exercise; better diets), less illness, more adaptability to the environment, and more.  One study suggests that it could be also societal changes that is, people are less likely to view themselves as disabled, and less likely to report being disabled than they used to be.  For this reason, the study cautions people to realize that the declines in disability may not be as dramatic as they seem, and the trend may not continue.  However, they concede that disability frequency has reduced.  Cognitive disability is also of interest at this time, but results have been mixed, with some studies finding a decrease in occurrence, and other studies finding rates remaining the same or increasing (Wolf, Hunt, and Knickman).


Wolf, Douglas; Hunt, Kelly; and Knickman, James (2005).  Perspectives in the Recent Decline of Disability at Older Ages.  The Milbank Quarterly.  83, 3, 365.

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