203311 Environmental Factors Affecting the Measurement of Disability: Plans for the National Health and Aging Trends Study

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 1:35 PM

Emily Agree, PhD , Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
The extent to which differences in inherent capacity result in functional limitations or dependence is in part a function of the environment in which we live.

Moreover, the environmental features we observe may have been put in place or acquired to accommodate physical capacity. This presentation will discuss the role that environments within and outside the home play in the conceptualization and measurement of disability. Most national surveys have focused primarily on the assessment of individual capacity and contain limited information on the environmental factors that are themselves enabling or disabling. Thus, it has not been possible to identify groups at-risk for disability because of an environmental barrier or lack of modification to the home, to track the contributions of environmental changes to declines in late-life disability, or to assess the extent to which technology enhances the lives of older adults. The NSAH will include measures of the physical, social and technological context in which individuals live and function. We plan to investigate three areas: 1) the home and neighborhood environment, which includes an understanding of the physical features of the home and neighborhood that facilitate or hinder activities; 2) the social environment, comprised of the social networks with which individuals interact, and their geo-spatial distribution; and 3) the communications and technology environment, which includes access to and use of computers, Internet, and telephones as well as new emerging technologies.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of environment in the disablement process. Describe which aspects of the environment should be measured to study its influence on disability trends and dynamics.

Keywords: Aging, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conduct research on aging and disability as a university faculty member.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.