Two-thirds of Seniors Need Assistance

According to a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health, two-thirds of people 65 and older need help to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, getting out of bed or a chair, walking and using the toilet. Most seniors are seeking help in the form of special devices, such as canes, scooters and bathroom grab bars or from another person, or are reducing their activity because of a disability.

The study included more than 8,000 Americans over the age of 65, about 500 of whom are living in a nursing home. Researchers divided participants into five categories, including people who are fully able; people who use special devices; people who have reduced the frequency of their activity but report no difficulty; people who report difficulty doing activities by themselves, even when using special devices; and people who get help from another person. Those living at home participated in interviews about their physical capacity and ability to carry out activities of daily living. They also were given tests to measure their physical and thinking abilities. Data for the research also came from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends study.

The findings were as follows:

  • 31% of adults older than 65 were able to take care of themselves with no assistance.
  • 25% were able to take care of themselves using some sort of assistive device, such as bathroom grab bars or a cane.
  • 21% received help from other people.
  • 18% reported having difficulty completing daily tasks even with accommodations.
  • 6% of the study subjects scaled back on certain activities.
  • 90% of seniors can feed themselves with no help, but barely half can bathe without some kind of assistance.
  • 4% of people aged 90 or older didn’t need any help, compared to 45% of those aged 65 to 69.
  • Women are more likely than men to turn to assistive devices, and whites and Asians are more likely to use assistive devices than blacks and Hispanics.
  • People with lower incomes also are less likely to use assistive devices to counteract a disability.

According to Dr. Stanley Wainapel, Clinical Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, “a lot of things can be done, including making changes to the home, losing weight and using assistive devices. Doing things on your own and maintaining the ability to get around helps you be connected with others, and that’s a very important part of healthy aging.”

If you or a loved one need assistance with Activities of Daily Living or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (such as cooking,  cleaning, caring for pets, paying bills and managing finances), now is the time to start Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection. This type of planning can be started while you are still able to make legal and financial decisions, or can be initiated by an adult child acting as agent under a properly-drafted Power of Attorney, even if you are already in a nursing home or receiving other long-term care assistance. In fact, the majority of our Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection clients come to us when nursing home care is already in place or is imminent. Please call The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Long-term Care Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. at 703-691-1888 in Fairfax or 540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg to make an appointment for a consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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