The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is a unique national resource for the scientific study of functioning in later life. NHATS is intended to foster research that guides efforts to reduce disability, maximize health and independent functioning, and enhance quality of life at older ages. As the population ages, NHATS provides the basis for understanding trends and dynamics in late-life functioning, how these differ for various population subgroups, and the economic and social consequences of aging and disability for individuals, families, and society.

NHATS gathers information in person from a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older. The initial sample was first interviewed in 2011. Replenishment of the sample to maintain its ability to represent the older Medicare population was undertaken in 2015. Annual interviews are conducted to document change over time. The NHATS sample design, which is drawn from the Medicare enrollment file, oversamples persons at older ages and Black individuals.

Detailed information is collected on participants’ physical and cognitive capacity, how activities of daily life are carried out, the social, physical, and technological environment, and participation in valued activities. A series of performance-based tests provides complimentary measures of physical and cognitive capacity. In addition, information is obtained on living arrangements, economic status and well-being, and aspects of early life. For those who die between rounds, a Last Month of Life interview collects details on place and quality of end-of-life care and daily activities since the prior interview. For more information please see: