Unmet Assistance Need Among Older American Indians: The Native Elder Care Study

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We examined the prevalence and correlates of unmet assistance need with respect to activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) among older American Indians.

Design and Methods:

Data for our analyses were collected in 2006–2008 as part of the Native Elder Care Study, a cross-sectional study of community-dwelling American Indians aged ≥55 years. In-person interviewer-administered surveys were used to collect data on demographic characteristics, physical functioning, mental and physical health, personal assistance needs, and psychosocial resources.


Among those with an assistance need, 47.8% reported an unmet need with one or more ADLs or IADLs. Significant adjusted correlates of unmet assistance need included greater number of ADL and IADL difficulties and lower levels of social support.


Initiatives and programs aimed at increasing social support and augmenting informal care networks can support efforts to meet American Indian adults’ personal assistance needs.

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