The living conditions of elderly Americans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Purpose: This article profiles the housing settings of frail elderly individuals, whether their homes are facilitating or impeding their ability to live in the community, and the change in disability and housing status before and after passage of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Design and Methods: The analysis relies primarily on statistical analysis of the 1995 national American Housing Survey (AHS), with supplementary analysis of the 1978 AHS. Results: In 1995, roughly 14% of elderly individuals had a "housing-related disability," 49% had at least one dwelling modification, and 23% had an unmet need for modifications. Because half those with dwelling modification also reported unmet need, the match between disabling condition and modification, not the presence of modifications, is key. Multivariate results indicate that although unmet need is greater among the poor, lack of modifications is not. Prevalence of modifications nearly doubled between 1978 and 1995. Overall unmet need declined, but some needs were less likely to be met in 1995 than 1978. Implications: The analysis highlights the importance of information about housing for understanding the care and service needs of elderly individuals and provides a compelling argument for a minimum dataset on their housing and neighborhood environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003


  • Dwelling modifications
  • Housing
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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