Independent Ageing in Very Old Swedish Men

  • Date:
  • Location: Enghoffsalen, Akademiska sjukhuset, Ingång 50, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Franzon, Kristin
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Geriatrik
  • Contact person: Franzon, Kristin
  • Disputation

Disputation

Predictors for survival have been investigated thoroughly, but less is known about how to reach high age with preserved physical and cognitive function. These functions are crucial to stay independent in daily life, which is highly valued by the oldest old.

This thesis was based on data from the Uppsala Longitudinal Study in Adult Men. In 1970, all men born in 1920-24 and living in Uppsala were invited to the study, and 82% (n=2,322) participated in the first investigation. In this thesis, data are used from the investigations cycles at the ages of 50, 71, 87 and 92 years. Independent ageing was defined as follows: having independency in personal care and the ability to walk outdoors alone, being community-dwelling, having a Mini-Mental State Examination score of 25 points or greater, and having no diagnosed dementia.

Thirty-seven percent of the original cohort survived to the age of 85. At a mean age of 87, 74% of the participants were independently aged, while at a mean age of 92 the prevalence of independent ageing was 64%. In Paper I, non-smoking and normal weight at a mean age of 50 were associated with independent ageing at a mean age of 87 years. In Paper II, never smoking, not being obese, and a high adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet at a mean age of 71 were associated with independent ageing at a mean age of 87. In both Papers I and II, high leisure time physical activity was associated with survival, but not with independent ageing. In Paper III, higher gait speed and hand grip strength and a faster chair stand test were cross-sectionally associated with independent ageing at a mean age of 87. Higher gait speed was also longitudinally associated with independent ageing five years. However, muscle mass and sarcopenia were not associated with the outcome. In Paper IV, a history of stroke, osteoarthritis, hip fracture and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were associated with loss of independent ageing at a mean age of 92.

Smoking, weight and diet are all modifiable risk factors associated with independent ageing. If decreased smoking and a normalised weight in the population could diminish stroke, hip fracture, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and osteoarthritis, the prevalence of independent ageing could rise, even in nonagenarians. Additionally, a Mediterranean-like diet may contribute to both survival and independent ageing.