Publications

Trends in medication use and functioning before retirement age: Are they linked?

This paper explores the extent to which changes in medication use during the 1990s are linked to improvements in functioning among Americans before they reach retirement age. Using two cross-sections from a survey of Americans ages 51-61, we examined changes between 1992 and 1998 in the prevalence of functional limitations and medication use associated with five chronic conditions: hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, stroke, and arthritis. We found no evidence linking increases in medication use to improvements in functioning. Instead, increases in educational attainment offset the negative effects of increases in obesity and arthritis over this period. Findings underscore the need for caution in projecting forward improvements in old-age functioning when considering the future of Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that serve the elderly with disabilities. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT] This paper explores the extent to which changes in medication use during the 1990s are linked to improvements in functioning among Americans before they reach retirement age. Using two cross-sections from a survey of Americans ages 51-61, we examined changes between 1992 and 1998 in the prevalence of functional limitations and medication use associated with five chronic conditions: hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, stroke, and arthritis. We found no evidence linking increases in medication use to improvements in functioning. Instead, increases in educational attainment offset the negative effects of increases in obesity and arthritis over this period. Findings underscore the need for caution in projecting forward improvements in old-age functioning when considering the future of Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that serve the elderly with disabilities.