The National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is a 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 drawn from the U.S. Medicare enrollment file. The NHATS sample design oversamples persons at older ages and Black individuals. 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 in the participant’s place of residence to document change over time.

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.

Jennifer Schrack, PhD
Johns Hopkins University

Vicki Freedman, PhD
University of Michigan


Acknowledgment statement for any data distributed by NIAGADS:

Data for this study were prepared, archived, and distributed by the National Institute on Aging Alzheimer's Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS) at the University of Pennsylvania (U24-AG041689), funded by the National Institute on Aging.

For investigators using National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) data:

In text: “National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (grant number NIA U01AG32947) and conducted by the Johns Hopkins University.”

In references: “National Health and Aging Trends Study. Produced and distributed by with funding from the National Institute on Aging (grant number NIA U01AG32947).”