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Researchers use study to enhance understanding of late-life disability and care

man sitting on the wheelchair alone

A new supplemental issue to The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences features papers examining outcomes from 10 years of the seminal National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS).

NHATS, funded by the National Institute on Aging, is designed to foster a deeper understanding of national trends in late-life functioning, individual trajectories in functioning and accommodation, how these processes differ for various population subgroups, and the consequences of late-life disability for individuals, families, and society.

The first decade of the study has been led by the late Judith D. Kasper, PhD, at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Vicki A. Freedman, PhD, of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Both served as guest editors of the supplemental issue, titled “Late-Life Disability and Care: An Update from the National Health and Aging Trends Study at Its 10-Year Mark.”

“The papers in the volume illustrate the breadth and depth of the NHATS content and how it can be applied to investigate both long-standing and new questions regarding late-life disability and care,” Freedman said. “As a group, the papers make important contributions to the study’s overarching aim to guide efforts to reduce disability, maximize functioning, and enhance quality of life of older Americans.”

In May 2021, upon release of its 10th round of data, NHATS celebrated this milestone with a virtual conference. The supplemental issue provides an integrated, peer-reviewed forum for many of the papers presented at the conference.

Specifically, the papers cover three broad topic areas: how assistance with activities in later life unfolds over time; factors associated with gaps in care — or unmet care needs — in later life; and caregiver experiences and well-being.

This supplemental issue was sponsored by the University of Michigan and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with support from the National Institute on Aging.

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