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Active Life Expectancy Varies for Older Blacks, Whites

Blacks, especially black women, have lower percentage of remaining life spent active

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TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy has increased for older whites and blacks, but blacks, especially women, have a smaller percentage of remaining life spent active, according to a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

Vicki A. Freedman, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Brenda C. Spillman, Ph.D., from the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., examined changes in active life expectancy for white and black adults aged 65 years and older in the United States from 1982 to 2011.

The researchers found that there was an increase in longevity, disability was postponed to older ages, the locus of care shifted from nursing facilities to community setting, and there was an increase in the proportion of life at older ages spent without disability in whites. Blacks experienced increases in longevity with smaller postponements in disability, and the percentage of remaining life spent active was below that of whites, and remained stable. In terms of the proportion of years expected to be lived without disability, older black women were especially disadvantaged in 2011.

"Public health measures directed at older black adults -- particularly women -- are needed to offset impending pressures on the long-term care delivery system as the result of population aging," the authors write.

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