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Seniors with Activities of Daily Living Needs. Data Brief Series ● September 2010 ● No. 5. Approximately 1 in 4 seniors who live alone have difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs) or have cognitive impairment?. Seniors with ADL Needs and Cognitive Impairments.

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seniors with activities of daily living needs
Seniors with Activities of Daily Living Needs

DataBrief Series● September 2010● No. 5

Approximately 1 in 4 seniors who live alone have difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs) or have cognitive impairment?

seniors with adl needs and cognitive impairments
Seniors with ADL Needs and Cognitive Impairments
  • As people age, they often find it more challenging to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as moving across the room and bathing.
  • Seniors living alone who have difficulty with activities of daily living are particularly vulnerable, because they may go without needed help.
    • For example, living alone is associated with a higher risk of falling or experiencing hunger.1,2
  • Of seniors living alone, 26 percent need help with 1 or more ADLs only and 2 percent have only cognitive impairments. 1.6 percent of seniors living alone have both cognitive impairment and some ADL limitation.3
  • Because they live alone, it may be more challenging to manage care transitions from one setting to another and create a support system that allows them to remain in their home or community.

Karicha K et al. Health risk appraisal in older people 1: are older people living alone an ‘at-risk’ group? British Journal of General Practice, 2007.

Ziliak J et al. The Causes, Consequences and Future of Senior Hunger in America. University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research and Iowa State University, 2008.

Avalere Health analysis of 2006 Health and Retirement Study.

DataBrief (2010) ● No. 5

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Of all seniors who live alone, roughly 26% have difficulty with activities of daily living and/or cognitive impairment

DataBrief (2010) ● No. 5

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One in four seniors who live alone has difficulty with activities of daily living or cognitive impairment. This highlights a substantial need for services aimed at this vulnerable population.

Currently, there is no single, comprehensive system for services and supports to assist seniors who live alone with these needs. There have been efforts, however, over the last 10 years to improve programs targeted at this population. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and the recently passed Affordable Care Act all include provisions that help expand access to home- and community-based services. These policies are aimed at encouraging innovative care delivery models for this population and increasing the availability of funding for the services that can keep seniors in their homes.

  • The facts about seniors living alone come from the 2006 Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey conducted every other year on individuals of retirement age.  The survey asks people about their living arrangements as well as their health, cognitive status, and ability to do certain activities.  Questions about ADLs and cognitive impairments are proxies for the ability to live independently. 
  • In this analysis of the survey data, respondents were restricted to those over age 65 and determined to be living alone or with at least one or more people. 

DataBrief (2010) ● No. 5