Studying the ‘Oldest Old’

iStock-498505467What can the 'oldest old' teach us about aging, and how has that experience changed over the last decade? That's the substance of a study published in the Lancet this week that Rick and I discuss on PodMed. The majority of the cohort, those in their 80's, don't seem that old to Rick, he quips because such an age grows closer daily, but some subjects were in their 90's or even 100+. The study compared almost 20,000 people aged 80-105 in China who were born 10 years apart and enrolled in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Study.  Data from 1998 and 2008 were included, and came to the conclusion that people are living longer but with poorer physical and cognitive functioning.  Hmmm. How was this assessed?

Data was gathered relative to physical ability (picking up a book, standing from a chair, turning 360 degrees), cognitive function, and self-reported activities of daily living.  For all age groups (80's, 90's, 100+) mortality decreased, but physical disability increased and cognitive ability decreased. The authors conclude that while we may be pushing back mortality frailty is increasing, and this must be acknowledged both in an individual's care but also in communities and at a policy level.  How applicable are these results to the world's aging population, as many of these subjects were low and middle-income? Rick notes that similar results were seen in a recent Swedish study also, so accounting for factors related to increasing frailty seems like the next step.

Other topics this week are all from JAMA: Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United StatesPeriodic Screening Pelvic ExaminationEvidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force, and Effect of an Integrated Pest Management Intervention on Asthma Symptoms Among Mouse-Sensitized Children and Adolescents With AsthmaA Randomized Clinical Trial. Until next week, y'all live well.


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