Women are more likely than men to report being limited in their activities due to a physical or mental/emotional problem, and among both sexes activity limitations are more common with older age. In 2003, 15.8 percent of women reported at least one activity limitation, compared to 13.0 percent of men. Among women 75 and older, 47.8 percent reported at least one activity limitation; this is more than seven times the rate reported among women aged 18 to 44 years. Among men 75 and older, 41.4 percent reported an activity limitation.

The four most frequently reported causes of activity limitation among women were arthritis or rheumatism (28.3 percent), back/neck problems (20.6 percent), heart problems (13.2 percent), and hypertension (12.7 percent). Poor mental health was also a cause of activity limitation, with 12.1 percent of women reporting that their activities were limited by depression, anxiety, or an emotional problem.

Vision problems caused activity limitations among 7.2 percent of women; however, 23.0 percent of women used adaptive devices for their vision in 2002, including telescopic or other prescriptive lenses, magnifiers, large print or talking materials, white cane, or guide dog. The use of adaptive devices was most common among women aged 75 years and older (28.5 percent), followed by those aged 45 to 64 years (24.6 percent). Overall, the use of adaptive devices among men and women was approximately equal; however, men were more likely to use these devices at younger ages while women were more likely to use them at older ages. The use of vision rehabilitation services was low among both females and males (1.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively).

Graph: Conditions Causing Activity Limitations in Women[d]

Graph: Use of Adaptive Visual Devices and Vision Rehabilitative Services Among Women by Age[d]