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NHATS at a Glance

The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is a new resource for the scientific study of functioning in later life. NHATS is being conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, with data collection by Westat, and support from the National Institute on Aging. In design and content, NHATS is intended to foster research that will guide efforts to reduce disability, maximize health and independent functioning, and enhance quality of life at older ages.

Starting in 2011, NHATS has been gathering information on a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. In-person interviews collect detailed information on activities of daily life, living arrangements, economic status and well-being, aspects of early life, and quality of life. Among the specific content areas included are: the general and technological environment of the home, health conditions, work status and participation in valued activities, mobility and use of assistive devices, cognitive functioning, and help provided with daily activities (self-care, household, and medical). Study participants are re-interviewed every year in order to compile a record of change over time. The content and questions included in NHATS were developed by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the fields of demography, geriatric medicine, epidemiology, health services research, economics, and gerontology.

As the population ages, NHATS will provide the basis for understanding trends in late-life functioning, how these differ for various population subgroups, and the economic and social consequences of aging and disability for individuals, families, and society.

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