Encyclopedia of Geropsychology

2017 Edition
| Editors: Nancy A. Pachana

Disability and Ageing

  • Fiona Kate BarlowEmail author
  • Nicole Walker
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-082-7_81


Age-related disease; Age-related impairment; Chronic disease; Functional change and loss; Impairment


Disability is a broad term that has multiple definitions. The World Health Organization (World Health Organization 2012) defines disability as encompassing:
  1. 1.

    Impairments: a problem or problems with bodily structure or function

  2. 2.

    Activity limitations: a problem or problems experienced by an individual when attempting to carry out an action or task

  3. 3.

    Participation limitations: a problem or problems in dealing with life situation (e.g., social, vocational)


The term disability, however, is not limited to health conditions. In fact, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health views disability as an umbrella term (World Health Organization 2012). In their definition, disability is the interaction between environmental and personal factors (e.g., stigmatization, access to healthcare, social support) and a health condition (e.g.,...

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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Australia 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Psychology and Menzies Health Institute QueenslandGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia