Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Disability rates may not increase with very old age

A report published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that increasing rates of disability may not be inevitable among the very old, who are the fastest growing population segment in the Western world. In an article entitled, “Exceptional longevity does not result in exceptional levels of disability,” researchers in Denmark and at the Max Planck Institute in Germany conclude that the concern regarding an increased burden of care-giving associated with more people joining the ranks of the very old may be unfounded.

Kaare Christensen at the Danish Aging Research Center at the University of Southern Denmark and colleagues studied 2,262 Danish men and women born in 1905. The subjects were surveyed in 1998, and in 2000, 2003, and 2005 to evaluate physical functioning, cognitive function, and depression levels.
At the beginning of the study, 39 percent of the subjects were classified as independent: defined as being able to perform activities of daily living without assistance and having adequate cognitive function. This percentage declined by an additional 6 percent by 2005 among the 166 surviving participants, an amount considered “modest”. Continue Reading

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