Self-care and assistance from others in coping with functional status limitations among a national sample of older adults

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 1995 Mar;50(2):S101-9. doi: 10.1093/geronb/50b.2.s101.


Using data from the first wave of a new longitudinal data set collected in the late fall and winter of 1990-1991, the National Survey of Self-Care and Aging (NSSCA), we examined older adults' self-care practices in coping with functional status limitations based on in-person interviews with a national probability sample of 3,485 noninstitutionalized adults aged 65 or older selected from Medicare beneficiary files. A composite score of functional status was calculated to reflect the presence and severity of disability in three dimensions: basic, mobility, and instrumental activities of daily living. Three types of self-care coping strategies were defined: use of equipment or devices, changes in behavior, and modifications in one's environment. National estimates of self-care practices, assistance from others, and functional status measures were presented. Data revealed that the likelihood of engaging in self-care coping strategies increased as the severity of disability increased, except among the most severely disabled. Generally, those receiving assistance from others were more likely to engage in self-care activities, suggesting that receiving assistance supplements, rather than supplants, self-care coping strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Homemaker Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Orthopedic Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self-Help Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States