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Table: Persons aged 65 and over by severity of limitations in usual activities and difficulty in feeding themselves (absolute values in thousands) by age class
Reference population
The survey health condition and use of services, conducted every five years, is a fundamental tool for observing the health of the population. It is currently the only source of data able to provide a fairly complete, although not exhaustive, picture of persons with disabilities. It allows a stratification of the phenomenon of disability by severity, describes the socio-demographic conditions of persons with disabilities and provides information on family background, leisure time and the use of health services by persons with disabilities. To detect the disability until the last edition of the survey (2005), Istat has used a battery of questions known as ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), prepared by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) on the basis of the WHO (World Health Organization) ICIDH (International Classification of Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps) classification. The battery measures the ability to perform activities and basic functions deemed essential in daily living and therefore it is used to study disability. Three key dimensions of disability can be outlined: daily living functions, including personal care (washing, dressing, bathing or showering, eating); physic, mainly related to mobility and walking (walking, climbing up and down the stairs, picking up objects from the floor) that, in extreme situations, it appears as confinement, ie permanent constriction of the individual in a bed, a chair or a house; and communication, including speech, vision and hearing. All the difficulties in the ADLs are assessed in the presence of prostheses or aids.