Boomers Beset with Disabilities

The number of middle-aged Americans with certain mobility-related disabilities, such as trouble climbing stairs, is on the rise, according to a new study. This upward trend for baby boomers contrasts with a decline in disabilities found for people 65 and over.

The study is based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, conducted annually from 1997 to 2007 and including up to 15,000 individuals each year. The results show that more than 40 percent of people aged 50 to 64 reported having problems with at least one of nine physical functions, and many reported difficulty with more than one.

While the total number of adults reporting physical problems in this age group did not change significantly over the study period, there was a significant uptick in people reporting difficulties with specific mobility related functions, including walking a quarter-mile and climbing 10 steps. There was also an increase in the number of people using special equipment to get around, such as a cane or wheelchair.

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