IALS has also identified a number of subgroup differences. In particular, it indicates that the literacy levels of older adults are dramatically lower than for others. For prose literacy among adults over age 65, 53 percent are at Level 1, with an additional 27 percent at Level 2. Just 19 percent have the minimum skills considered necessary to fully function.
As the IALS Canadian report indicates: The consequences of low literacy for Canadian seniors have been explored in a variety of studies. Seniors with low literacy skills are restricted in their activities and often depend on others to cope with the literacy activities of daily living. This means that many older adults are limited in their ability to understand information about health and to use health care services.(4)
Following are some major implications of the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) findings about literacy levels among Canadians:
4 NLS recently has commissioned a monograph from the University of Regina, which will use the IALS database for a more in-depth look at the impact of literacy levels on the socio-economic status and health of older adults.
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