Older adults living in public housing suffer more from fatigue and chronic, related conditions than those in other community dwellings, according to a new study.
The study in the winter issue of Ethnicity & Disease confirms that older adults living in public housing owned by the government are twice as likely 57.3% vs. 26.9% to report fair or poor health compared to those with no public housing experience.
Investigators analyzed multiple, simultaneously occurring symptoms of the nations poorest and most at-risk individuals, said lead author Pamela Parsons, PhD, NP, of Virginia Commonwealth University.
The findings represent a snapshot of those in public housing, the studys research team said, and might aid future innovations in public housing development to meet the needs of this growing segment of society.
In 2002, the AARP Public Policy Institute found that more than 2 million older adults live in publicly subsidized rental housing.
The real issue is: How can we provide better care and services for these elders? said Parsons, a nurse practitioner whose area of specialization focuses on frail elders aging in place in public housing.
Study participants included more than 16,000 individuals ages 50 and older in the Health and Retirement Study. In 2006, they responded to interview questions on housing status, the state of their health and their functioning how well they performed activities of daily living and mobility. Fatigue, cardiac conditions, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis and psychiatric problems were more prevalent among elders living in public housing.
Simply having access to more specific information ultimately could help improve necessary support mechanisms for older adults, Parsons said.
Legislators need data to change and create policies that help people age in place, she said.