Effects of Early Life on Elderly Health
By: Diana Lavery and Marlene Lee
Source: Population Reference Bureau
Personal choices made earlier in life can have lasting effects on elderly health. Decisions about exercise, nutrition, smoking, and drinking behavior, as well as some less obvious choices such as pursuit of higher education, whether or not to marry, and which neighborhood to live in all have consequences much later in life. Not only can such choices in one’s adult life affect elderly health, but so can characteristics of one’s childhood.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) supports analysis of the effects of early life on elderly health. Knowledge gained from these analyses can help design programs to improve the choices people make both for themselves and for their children. This newsletter discusses some of the current research undertaken by NIA-sponsored and other researchers on the effects of early life on adult and elderly health.
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Effects of Early Life on Elderly Health
Retirement Decisions of Women and Men in Response to Their Own and Spousal Health
By: Serhii Ilchuk
Source: RAND, PRGS Dissertations
This dissertation examines the impact of individual and spousal health on the retirement decisions of both spouses in dual-earner families. The author uses survival analysis techniques to analyze eight biennial waves of a nationally representative panel survey of the U.S. population over age 50. Of the various causes of early retirement, the onset of work disability or functional disability has the biggest effect, followed by major health events and chronic illnesses. The onset of a husband’s work disability can lead to an earlier age of retirement not only for the husband himself but also, through joint retirement, for his wife. The author also calculates cost-of-illness estimates for indirect costs (productivity lost through an early retirement) of different health conditions at the individual and societal levels, and estimates total family productivity lost due to the spouse’s work disability.
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Population Bulletin vol 63, No. 4 2008 Rethinking Age and Aging
This Population Bulletin illustrates how to use new measures of population aging that take into account changes in longevity over time and place. None of the usual indicators of aging available adjust for increases in life expectancy. With advances in health and life expectancy, measuring population aging presents a problem to demographers because the meaning of the number of years lived has changed. New measures described in this Population Bulletin take life expectancy differences into account. First, we discuss the surprising history of life expectancy change within the last 150 years. Because of increases in life expectancies, it is misleading to compare those who are chronologically age 40 today with people who were 40 a century ago. Second, we introduce the concept of “prospective age” as a way to compare people who live in periods and places where life expectancies differ. Finally, we build on the concept of prospective age in developing alternative definitions of median age, the elderly population, and old-age dependency ratios.
Falls, Depression and Antidepressants in Later Life: A Large Primary Care Appraisal
Ngaire Kerse1, Leon Flicker, Jon J. Pfaff, Brian Draper, Nicola T. Lautenschlager, Moira Sim, John Snowdon, Osvaldo P. Almeida
Source: PLoS ONE
Risk factors associated with sustaining a single and sustaining multiple falls differ suggesting potential separate mechanisms for single and multiple falls. Use of antidepressants (most notably SSRIs) and depressive symptoms are independently associated with increased risk of falls in later life. The prevalence of falls with depression means that fall prevention strategies should be a routine part of the management of depression in older people.
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Social Vulnerability, Frailty and Mortality in Elderly People
Source: PLoS ONE
Social vulnerability is reproducibly related to individual frailty/fitness, but distinct from it. Greater social vulnerability is associated with mortality in older adults. Further study on the measurement and operationalization of social vulnerability, and of its relationships to other important health outcomes, is warranted.
Aging Everywhere: AARP International’s resource featuring quick facts, research, and events around the world.
The Aging Everywhere interactive world map serves as a “one-stop” international clearing house of the most relevant and timely information on aging populations worldwide. This site is updated regularly with newly published regional and country specific research, reports, and resources. We intend for it to serve as a useful tool for policymakers, researchers, students, media, and all others interested in the issues of global aging.
Successful ageing in adversity: the LASER–AD longitudinal study
Source: Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry
G Livingston, C Cooper, J Woods, A Milne, C Katona
Background: Most models of successful ageing do not allow for the possibility of living “successfully,” despite some degree of cognitive or physical impairment. We reviewed the successful ageing and related quality of life literature to identify their potential predictors. We then tested our hypotheses that wellbeing in adversity would be predicted by mental health (anxiety and depression) and social factors rather than physical health and that it would be stable over time.
Method: We interviewed 224 people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and their family carers, recruited to be representative of those living with AD in the community. We re-interviewed 122 (73.1% of eligible) participants 18 months later. Our main outcome measure was the perception of the person with AD on their life as a whole.
Results: Mean “wellbeing in adversity” scores did not change significantly over time (t = 0.23). Social relationships, subjective mental health, health perception, activities of daily living and baseline wellbeing in adversity were the significant correlates of wellbeing in adversity on univariate analysis. Only baseline wellbeing in adversity and mental health score were significant predictors in our regression analysis. In a well fitting structural equation model, less severe dementia and better health perception predicted fewer mental health problems and social relationships, but were not direct predictors of wellbeing in adversity at 18 months.
Conclusion: Successful ageing was common among a cohort of people with dementia. The most important predictors of this were mental health and social relationships, which fully mediated the relationship we found between health perception and wellbeing 18 months later.
The Economic Slowdown’s Impact on Middle-Aged and Older Americans
Jeffrey Love and Gerard Rainville
Research Report from the AARP
AARP commissioned a nationwide survey to determine how people age 45 and older are responding to the current economic slowdown. The survey asked respondents for their assessments of the economy’s condition, whether they have taken actions in response to the changing economy, and if they felt enough was being done to address economic problems. This executive summary of the study reveals that a majority of those 45 or older believe the economy is in bad shape and that many have adapted their behaviors in response to the floundering economy.
Survey findings include:
* Eighty-one percent say the economy is in fairly bad or very bad condition. A similar percentage (75%) feel the economy is getting worse.
* Over one-fourth of respondents said they are having trouble paying their mortgage or rent and one-third have stopped putting money into their retirement accounts. More than one-fourth (27%) of all workers 45+ have postponed plans to retire.
* As the economy slows and prices rise, most middle-aged and older respondents report that they are having difficulty paying for food, gas, utilities, and medicine, and are responding to the situation by cutting luxuries and postponing major purchases and travel.
* Respondents age 65 and over were less likely than those ages 45-64 to report having taken steps to cope with a slowing economy or increasing prices as a result of the recent economic slowdown. This does not indicate that the older population is better off financially. Rather, the data suggest that the 65 and over group had, even prior to the economic downturn, been forced to adjust their spending habits because of their work status, fixed income, and rising costs.
More Older Americans are Poor than the Official Measure Suggests
Sheila R. Zedlewski, Barbara Butrica
Source: The Urban Institute
The number of poor adults age 65 and older has declined dramatically since the official poverty rate was designed back in the 1960s. Today the federal government considers fewer than 1 in 10 older adults to be poor, compared with about 1 in 3 in the 1960s. These estimates show the share of people with insufficient income to meet basic living expenses, such as food and housing. However, substantial research shows that the official poverty measure no longer reflects the true resources or needs of older adults.
The lack of an accurate poverty measure for older adults hampers efforts to reform Medicare and Social Security, which face significant revenue shortfalls. Reform proposals often aim to reduce costs by combining benefit cuts with increased cost sharing for older adults. To target any cuts or increased costs to older adults with the greatest ability to pay, an accurate measure of economic well-being is critical.
Report of study projecting dependent elder population up to 2030, distinguishing among family situations.