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Vol. 58, No. 4, 2012
Issue release date: June 2012

Changing Profile of Health and Function from Age 70 to 85 Years

Jacobs J.M. · Maaravi Y. · Cohen A. · Bursztyn M. · Ein-Mor E. · Stessman J.
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Background: Old age has traditionally been considered to begin at age 65. The improving health and functional status observed among older people may necessitate reevaluation of this cut-off point. Objective: To present the changing prevalence of common geriatric syndromes, functional parameters, common disease status and health care utilization, at ages 70, 78 and 85, in order to help address the question of when does contemporary aging actually begin. Methods: Medical, psychosocial, cognitive, and functional status, and health service utilization at age 70, 78 and 85 were assessed through the Jerusalem Longitudinal Cohort Study (1990–2010), which prospectively followed a representative sample (born 1920–1921), of 1,861 people, all of whom underwent home-based comprehensive assessment. Results: At age 70, the cohort had good health, low comorbidity, preserved cognition, mobility and independence in basic and instrumental activities of daily activities (ADL). Rising comorbidity, declining cognitive status, increasing depression, and difficulty in ADLs were seen at 78. By age 85, compared to age 70, comorbidity had tripled, depression, hearing and visual impairment, falls, dizziness and mobility problems had doubled; 23% of subjects had cognitive impairment, 42.5% suffered urinary incontinence, and dependence in basic and instrumental ADLs was common (37.8 and 51.7%, respectively). Home care was 4.5, 10.1, and 24.6%, and hospitalization in the previous year occurred among 12.3, 18.8 and 27.8% at ages 70, 78 and 85, respectively. Conclusions: At age 70, the overall health profile was favorable, prevalence of geriatric syndromes was low, cognitive and functional status was preserved, and health service utilization was low. The progressive deterioration seen at ages 78 and more profoundly so at age 85, suggest that a cut-off point beyond age 70 years may serve to better define entry into old age.

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