Objectives: We analyzed the role of sociodemographic factors, chronic-disease risk factors, and health conditions in explaining gender differences in disability among senior citizens.
Methods: We compared 1348 men and women (mean age = 79 years) on overall disability and compared their specific activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and mobility limitations. Analysis of covariance adjusted for possible explanatory factors.
Results: Women were more likely to report limitations, use of assistance, and a greater degree of disability, particularly among IADL categories. However, these gender differences were largely explained by differences in disability-related health conditions.
Conclusions: Greater prevalence of nonfatal disabling conditions, including fractures, osteoporosis, back problems, osteoarthritis and depression, contributes substantially to greater disability and diminished quality of life among aging women compared with men.