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Aging & Longevity

Easy way to predict longevity of elderly can help decide who gets medical care

Knowing how long elderly will live a factor in qualifying treatment

No Hands Chair Stand

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Jan. 21, 2016 - Scientist who study the aging population – the very oldest among us, in particular - have found a simple way to make an educated guess at how long old people will live, which they think can be useful in making decisions about the health care of these nonagenarians (people from 90 to 99 years old) and centenarians.

“The chance of surviving to the age of 90 has increased markedly over the last 50 years in high-income countries, and will probably continue to rise with successive cohorts,” write the researchers.

In the United States, the number of nonagenarians has increased from approximately 230,000 in 1960 to 1.8 million in 2010.

Men reaching the ages of 92 or 93 have about a 6% chance of living to age 100. Women, however, almost double that with 11.4%.

 

The researchers found that when these senior citizens can rise from a chair, without using their hands, these odds of living to the age of 100 increased by 11.2% for men and 22.0% for women.

The odds went up even higher with a good score on the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), a cognitive test that is commonly used as part of the evaluation for possible dementia. With scores from 28 to 30, the chances were 21.7% for men and 34.2% for women.

The study concluded that chair stand score combined with MMSE score is a quick and easy way to estimate overall chance of survival in very old adults, which is particularly relevant when treatment with potential side effects for nonacute diseases is considered.

The authors say it has now become generally unacceptable to deny medical procedures to people aged 80 and older using advanced age as the sole argument.

Research has also emerged that investigates medical procedures for very old adults, but life expectancy for very old adults is still not long in most high-income countries, ranging from around 8 to 10 years for 80-year olds to 4 to 5 years for 90-year-olds.

Overt-treatment of very old adults, the researchers write, is still a general concern, and potential side effects of treatment have to be balanced with the overall survival prognosis, which is generally based on the overall chance of survival to a given age or overall life expectancy.

Many are urging that clinicians should offer to discuss the overall survival prognosis with patients aged 85 and older.

There is large variation in health and life expectancy in very old adults, which also should be taken into consideration before treatment is provided. Comprehensive geriatric assessments exist, but they are generally time-consuming and mostly validated in people aged 70 to 80.

These simple, easy-to-use tools can easily help predict the chance of individual survival in very old adults and provide guidance to their qualifications for medical treatments.

The study, Survival Prognosis in Very Old Adults, appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, January, 2016.

The authors from the Danish Aging Research Center include Mikael Thinggaard, Matt McGue, Bernard Jeune, Merete Osler, James W. Vaupel, Kaare Christensen.

All 3,600 Danes born in 1905 and living in Denmark in 1998, were invited to participate regardless of residence and health; 2,262 (63%) participated in the survey: 1,814 (80.2%) in person and 448 (19.8%) through a proxy. An in-person survey conducted over a 3-month period in 1998; assessment of survival over a 15-year follow-up period.

Related Aging & Longevity News from Senior Journal Archives

Another wall falls that kept senior citizens from critical treatments

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Nov. 5, 2015

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