MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nisha C. Hazra MSc
Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences,
King’s College London, London, UK
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Our study was motivated by limited evidence about the health status of very old people, the fastest growing group of the UK population with significant implications for future NHS health-care costs. Our findings indicated an increasing number of people reaching the age of 100 years, with the increase being higher among women comparing to men (a ratio of 4 to 1). Another interesting finding was that men reaching 100 years tended to be healthier than their female counterparts. In particular, women were more likely to present multiple chronic diseases compared to men and tended to be more frail, experiencing more falls, fractures, incontinence and hearing/visual impairments.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Our study showed that centenarians present with a complex mix of chronic conditions and functional disabilities that require possibly different treatment approaches than with younger patients. Therefore utilization of health care services and associated health care costs may increase substantially. More research around the health of the oldest old is needed to better understand these implications and to better manage old age quality of life and care. There was evidence that not all centenarians are disabled or unhealthy and we should invest more into research that aims to identify modifiable factors that can be targeted to promote healthy lifespan in very old people. Other centenarians lived with chronic conditions and disability, and it is important that the healthcare system focuses on the quality of life of these people rather than clinical outcomes.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: There is a need to identify preventative measures against old age illness and impairment, and to accurately project future health care costs associated with the aging of the UK population. We also must identify why some individuals reach the age of 100 without major health problems and why others do not. Lastly, we will need to understand why more women are living to extreme old ages and also to understand why, once reaching the age of 100, men tend to be healthier.