Morbidity and Functional Status

American Indian males over 65 reported higher proportions of diabetes (1.5 times), gallbladder disease (1.4 times), and rheumatism (1.3 times) than older men in the general population. American Indian women over 65 had 2.4 times the rates of diabetes as older women in the general population. In comparison with all Americans, American Indians had a lower prevalence of cancer, but higher prevalence of diabetes and gallbladder disease, as reported in the S American IndianAN (Survey of American Indians and Alaska Natives) conducted in 1987 of Indians eligible for IHS benefits (Johnson & Taylor, 1991).

Health related mobility and self-care limitations are more common among female than male American Indian elders, and more prevalent in American Indian elders than White age-mates. In 1985, 59% of American Indians over age 65 reported one or more activity limitations, the highest of any ethnic population (McCabe & Cuellar, 1994). Increases in longevity in American Indian are often accompanied by disabilities resulting in inability to perform activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as bathing, toileting, eating, and walking, and instrumental ADL’s (IADL’s) such as using the telephone, managing money, shopping, cooking, and making health care appointments. (See Figure 6).

Figure 6: The Strong Heart Study

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