Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Experiences among Older Adults with Disabling Conditions
- Compared with older adults without disabilities, older adults with disabilities were more likely to report delaying many types of health care, such as surgeries and prescriptions, experiencing financial hardships since the start of the pandemic.
- Differences across racial and ethnic groups were larger when examined across disability status than when examined among all older adults. For example, more Hispanic or Latino older adults with disabilities did not have enough money to buy food (22 percent) compared with Hispanic or Latino older adults without disabilities (11 percent) and with White older adults with disabilities (7 percent).
- Older adults with disabilities were more likely to live in counties with greater vulnerability to the pandemic.
This paper examines the health, work, and financial experiences of older adults with disabling conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also explores the role of county- and state-level conditions in these experiences.
Using data from the 2020 Health and Retirement Study, we estimated regression models to assess differences in outcomes between those with and without disabling conditions and by race/ethnicity. We used multilevel modeling to assess whether and how county or state factors might be associated with the differences in these effects.
Older adults with disabilities were more likely to report experiencing financial hardships, delaying health care, and experiencing effects on work than those without disabilities; these differences are heighted between race and ethnicity. Older adults with disabilities were more likely to live in counties with greater social vulnerability.
This work underscores the importance of developing a robust, disability-inclusive public health response that protects older adults.