Race Disparities in Disability Trajectories among Older Americans: Cohort Effects and Disease Profiles

Miles G. Taylor, Florida State University

Using up to 20 years of the National Long Term Care Survey and linked Medicare and Vital Statistics records, we use latent class analysis to examine differential disability trajectories across three cohorts of older adults. We test whether beneficial cohort effects, evidenced by trend and trajectory studies, are occurring consistently across racial groups and whether differences exist across race in disease profiles for differential disability experiences. We find that the significant protective effects of cohort are only visible for White older adults but not for African Americans. African Americans are less represented in nondisabled trajectories and more in moderate, nonstable trajectories across later life. They show differences primarily in heart disease (hypertension, heart attack) across multiple types of disability experience. These findings indicate that disability declines in true cohorts are not universal across race, nor are the diseases that predict longitudinal disability experience.

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Presented in Poster Session 6