Pregnancy and childbirth are an important physiological and emotional phenomenon in their lives for most women and studies have shown that this process may have a significant impact on their health at later ages. The objective of the study is to examine the relationship between functional disabilities in women over the age of 65 and their reproductive history and socioeconomic status. This is a cross-sectional study. The study group consisted of 543 women aged 65 or over. A general questionnaire and the Brief Disability Questionnaire (BDQ) were used to collect data with face-to-face interview in home visits. Of the women 79.2% have disability. First childbirth was experienced at the average age of 19.6 +/- 3.3 and the average age at which the women experienced their last delivery was 32.5 +/- 6.3. Parity was 4.1 +/- 1.7. Advanced age, being widowed and illiterate, less income, being outside of the middle class and having more than four children are important determinants for later life disability. The study highlights the importance of focusing not just on the short-term effects of childbearing and socioeconomic factors, but also of taking into account the possibility of long-term effects on disability in older women. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.