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Down but Not Out
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Approximately four out of every five newly disabled older people regain the ability to live independently within six months of their disability episode––a higher recovery rate than previously reported. “Our study offers good news to older people,” say researchers Susan E. Hardy, M.D., and Thomas M. Gill, M.D., Yale University School of Medicine. “It offers compelling evidence that becoming disabled in old age is not necessarily a life sentence.”

The majority of people in this study who recovered from disability maintained their independence for at least six months. But, for many, recovery was short-lived, especially for those with a disability lasting two months or more. While the short-term prognosis for recovery is good, the findings of recurring disability suggest the need to prevent disability in the first place and also to prevent recurrence.

The study measured disability in terms of “activities of daily living,” such as bathing, dressing, walking, or getting out of a chair. 

National Institutes of Health

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Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Life, November/December 2004. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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