Yale Study Finds ZIP Code is Tied to How Long Older Adults Remain Active

The age-friendly movement is already based largely around improving social determinants of health, but a recent Yale study provides more incentive for such changes. The study finds that a person’s ZIP code can also help predict how long older adults remain active.

The findings, available in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, are based on a cohort of 754 nondisabled people living in south central Connecticut from 1998 to 2020. All participants were 70 or older at the start of the study and were interviewed monthly about their ability to conduct four essential activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, walking, and transferring from a chair without assistance.

Among the key points is that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood was associated with lower active life expectancy and a greater percentage of projected remaining life with disability. The researchers call out that data also points to a tangible effect of structural racism on the lives of older Americans.

Researchers also used the Health Deprivation Index developed by the University of Wisconsin, which uses some similar measures to the Healthy Aging Data Reports funded by the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and compiled by UMass-Boston.