Functional disability and associated factors among older Zuni Indians.

Few studies have focused on American Indian elderly and functional disability, and none have explored potential moderating or mediating factors that may lend themselves to subsequent intervention. The purpose of this study was to describe the extent of functional disability in elders and to determine which factors were associated with a higher number of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) limitations. The study was a secondary data analysis of an existing survey of American Indian elders in one southwest tribe. Functional disability was defined as limitations in ADLs and was measured by the percent of respondents reporting specific limitations and by the mean total ADL limitations. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to determine the demographic, socioeconomic and health factors associated with ADL limitations. In the 90 elders surveyed, 40 percent of respondents reported a limitation with bathing, 31 percent with walking, and 22 percent with dressing. Only 6 percent of the elders surveyed, however, reported their health status as “poor” on a 5-point scale. Factors associated with more ADL limitations included poorer health status, less frequent exercise, and more elder care services used. Rates of functional disability in this tribe were higher than those found in the U.S. for all races. Further studies are needed to understand functional disability in American Indian elders and their need for long-term care services.