The economic implications of self-care: the effect of lifestyle, functional adaptations, and medical self-care among a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVES: Self-care includes actions taken by individuals to promote or ensure their health, to recover from diseases or injuries, or to manage their effects. This study measured associations between self-care practices (lifestyle practices, adaptations to functional limitations, and medical self-care) and Medicare expenditures among a national sample of adults 65 years and older. METHODS: Regression models of Medicare use and expenditures were estimated by using the National Survey of Self-Care and Aging and Medicare claims for 4 years following a baseline interview. RESULTS: Lifestyle factors (swimming and walking) and functional adaptations (general home modifications) were associated with reductions in monthly Medicare expenditures over a 12-month follow-up period. Expenditure reductions were found over the 48-month follow-up period for participation in active sports, gardening, and medical self-care. Practices associated with increases in expenditures included smoking, physical exercise (possibly of a more strenuous nature), and specific home modifications. CONCLUSIONS: Certain self-care practices appear to have significant implications for Medicare expenditures and presumptively for the health status of older adults. Such practices should be encouraged among older adults as a matter of national health policy.

published proceedings

  • Am J Public Health

altmetric score

  • 4

author list (cited authors)

  • Stearns, S. C., Bernard, S. L., Fasick, S. B., Schwartz, R., Konrad, T. R., Ory, M. G., & DeFriese, G. H.

citation count

  • 48

complete list of authors

  • Stearns, SC||Bernard, SL||Fasick, SB||Schwartz, R||Konrad, TR||Ory, MG||DeFriese, GH

publication date

  • October 2000