Disability levels and trends among older adults in Europe based on GALI and SHARE data

Cleon Tsimbos, University of Piraeus
Georgia Verropoulou, University of Piraeus

The present study uses data from two waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), carried out in 2004 and 2006/7, covering the 11 European countries participating at both waves, with the following main aims: first, to explore age-specific patterns of disability by sex among persons aged 50 or higher based on measures of activity restrictions and, especially, the Global Activity Limitation Indicator (GALI) and, second, to examine changes in that period, based on age standardised disability rates by sex. Finally, the effects of established socioeconomic indicators (educational attainment and net wealth) and of risk factors (obesity, chronic conditions and physical activity) on GALI are assessed, using regression models. The cross-sectional age-specific rates of disability for both waves show a greater prevalence among women. Patterns differentiate for mild and severe disability; in the first instance, there is a fairly regular increase with age while, in the latter, rates are rather constant among younger persons but increase abruptly after age 70. The findings also indicate a decline in disability prevalence among older adults in Europe between the waves of the study. Finally, GALI, though based on a general question, seems a consistent indicator of both mild and severe disability, having strong associations with socio-economic indicators, risky health behaviours and chronic diseases.

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Presented in Session 97: Health and well-being in the ageing process