March 12, 2014

All too often people think of care for older adults in terms of the tasks they can no longer perform due to age-related disability. However, some very interesting statistics have emerged that, moving forward, may play a role in how elder care is approached.

In a new study, researchers from several institutions, including the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins University, and the Urban Institute, interviewed over 8,000 seniors and discovered that a surprising number of older adults have found ways to adapt to their disabilities and thrive. According to the study results, 31 percent of all seniors on Medicare are able to manage on their own without assistance, and 25 percent have successfully adapted to their disabilities.

However, the study also brought to light a group of seniors who had not acknowledged any need for assistance, but had reported cutting back on activities or difficulties despite the use of assistive devices. Six percent of seniors surveyed were in this category. This group of seniors could most likely benefit from in-home care and home modifications in order to maintain independence. Approaching seniors’ care needs through identifying potential vulnerability rather than through identifying disabilities can help more seniors get the specific care needed to maintain their independence for as long as possible.

Read more about these fascinating results and how they may affect approaches to elder care and promotion of independence in this article.