Almost two-thirds of all Americans livingwith arthritis are women. In every agegroup the proportion of women who havearthritis is substantially higher than theproportion of men with the condition.
People with less education and lowerincomes have higher rates of arthritis.About one-third of the adult populationwith arthritis has less than a high schooleducation. This proportion is substantiallyhigher than the proportion of people in thegeneral population that have less than ahigh school education—20 percent.
Income differences between those whohave arthritis and the general populationmay be related, in part, to differences in edu-cational attainment between the groups. Inaddition, older women, who comprise a sub-stantial portion of those with arthritis, tendto have lower incomes than other groups.
Arthritis affects daily living
Older adults with arthritis spend similaramounts of time participating in volunteeractivities and caring for grandchildren astheir contemporaries who do not havearthritis. Still, in the most serious cases, peo-ple who have arthritis require assistancewith certain activities of daily living or
NATIONAL ACADEMY ON AN AGING SOCIETY
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
The term arthritis literally means “jointinflammation,” but it is generally used to referto a family of more than 100 different condi-tions that affect the joints and may also affectmuscles and other tissues. The most commonform of arthritis—degenerative arthritis orosteoarthritis—results from the breakdown ofthe tissue inside the joints. It affects more than20 million people in the U.S. The other form—inflammatory arthritis—results from swelling inthe joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a commontype of inflammatory arthritis.
ADLs, such as bathing, dressing, using thetoilet, eating, walking, or other personal careactivities. One of 5 adults age 51 to 61 whohas arthritis has difficulty with one or moreADLs, but only 1 of 20 adults the same agewithout arthritis has difficulty with one ormore ADLs. Adults age 70 and older needmore help (see Figure 1).Relatives play a large role in providing carefor the elderly who have arthritis. Spousesprovide almost one-quarter of the care toelders with arthritis who need help withADLs. Children provide 39 percent of thecare, and others provide the remaining care.Some people with arthritis also need helpwith instrumental activities of daily living,or IADLs. These include preparing meals,shopping, using the telephone, managingmoney, taking medications, and doing lighthousework. Children and families provide71 percent of the help that elderly witharthritis need with IADLs.
Proportion of Population Needing Assistance with Activities of Daily Living
National Academy on an Aging Societyanalysis of datafrom the
1992 Health and Retirement Study
1993 study of Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old.
51 TO 6170+
P E R C E N T
WITH ARTHRITISWITHOUT ARTHRITIS