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Thanks to important medical advances, public health efforts, and lifestyle changes, most Americans will live well into their 80s and 90s. Today, persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.7 years: 20.0 years for women and 17.1 years for men.

Source: Older Americans 2008: Key Indicator of Well-Being


However, with increasing age also comes the increasing likelihood of needing outside help to maintain independence.  Risk factors, in addition to age, associated with the need for long term care and supportive services include: poor health and the presence of chronic disease; functional limitations; economic status and poverty; and living alone.


Health Conditions and Chronic Disease


Chronic Condition

Local Prevalence

High Blood Pressure

57% of vulnerable older adults*


54% of vulnerable older adults*

Heart Related Disease

30% of vulnerable older adults*


22% of vulnerable older adults*


14% of vulnerable older adults*


10% of vulnerable older adults*


10% of vulnerable older adults*

*Vulnerable older adults are defined as individuals 75 years old and older or those 60 and older who have at least one of the following conditions: needs help with bathing; uses a cane, walker, or wheelchair; rates their health as fair or poor; is afraid to be left alone for more than two hours; or has a chronic illness.


Functional Capacity and Unmet Needs


 Disability Status: In 2000, 105,163 or 44% of older adults 65 years and older had some types of disability. More than half of those with disability (58,323 or 56%) had two or more types of disability


  Disability Types: Of those 46,840 older adults with one type of disability, the most common disability was physical disability (21%), followed by "go-outside home disability" (13%), sensory disability (7%), mental disability (6%), and self-care disability (.005%).


Ø      About 39,700 (16%) of vulnerable older adults in Harris County have at least one type of ADL limitation and require assistance with bathing, dressing and grooming, toileting, and/or ambulation.  Of these, about 26% do not receive enough help with these basic needs.


Ø      About 63,400 (26%) vulnerable older adults in Harris County have at least one type of limitation in the IADLs, meaning help is needed with meal preparation, housekeeping, managing medications, and/or other home management tasks.  More than one-third of them, an estimated 23,000 have unmet IADL needs. 


Charts & Graphs


Harris County Adults 65+ with Disabilities




Many thanks to St. Luke's Episcopal Charities for providing the following maps that help tell the story of older adults living in Harris County.


Percent of People Over Age 65 Who Are Disabled (pdf) 

Identification of disability is by self-report, and includes all people who report one or more disability. No distinction is made between sensory disabilities such as the loss of hearing or sight, and mobility related disabilities. Given this lack of specificity, it is not surprising to find larger concentrations of disability everywhere older people reside in larger numbers. It is perhaps more useful to identify areas where the two indicators, age and disability, do not overlap. The far northeast, and far northwest, more rural areas of the county, appear to have higher concentration of reported disabilities ranging between 50 to 77 percent. These concentrations also appear in the southern portion of the county along Route 288, and in the west and east of town in neighborhoods that are located on both sides of Beltway 8.


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Last Updated on 10/19/12
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