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1 in 4 Adults Are Disabled

Cognitive ailments most common among younger adults; mobility is more prevalent in older adults

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En español | About 1 in 4 adults in the United States are afflicted with a disability, and the type of disability one is likely to have depends greatly on age, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported.

In a report last week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Report, analysts from the government agency wrote that a cognitive disability (serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions) is more common among younger adults, while mobility disability (serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs) ranks number one among older adults. Older adults were more likely to have a disability.

Among all adults, mobility disability was the most widely reported (13.7 percent), followed by cognition (10.8), independent living – difficulty doing errands alone (6.8), hearing – serious difficulty hearing (5.9), vision – serious difficulty seeing (4.6) and self-care – difficulty doing errands alone (3.7).


In addition to mobility disability, hearing and independent living disabilities were much more likely among older people. Also, across the age spectrum, disability is generally more common among women than men, with the exception of hearing and self-care.

A CDC official said the report could help guide future health policy.

“At some point in their lives, most people will either have a disability or know someone who has one,” Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said of the report. “Learning more about people with disabilities in the United States can help us better understand and meet their health needs.”

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