MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Prof. Carol Jagger
AXA Professor of Epidemiology of Ageing and
Deputy Director of the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing (NUIA)
Institute of Health & Society
Campus for Ageing and Vitality
Newcastle upon Tyne
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Prof. Jagger: Although we know that life expectancy at older ages is increasing, there is still uncertainty about whether the extra years are healthy ones. Our results are based on data from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFASI and II), two cohorts of people aged 65 years and over in three centres in England (Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and Nottingham) who were interviewed in 1991 and 2011. The participants, over 7000 people in each study, were recruited from general practices in the area and included those living in care homes to ensure our results reflect the total older population.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Prof. Jagger: We used three health measures to calculate the health expectancies at age 65: cognitive impairment, self-perceived health and disability (mild and moderate/severe). Over the 20 year period women’s life expectancy at age 65 increased by 3.6 years whilst they gained 4.4 years free of cognitive impairment, 3.1 years in good self-perceived health but only 0.5 years free of disability. Men on the other hand lived an extra 4.5 years in total with gains of 4.2 years free of disability, 3.8 years in good self-perceived health and 2.6 years free of disability. So all the extra years of life were free of cognitive impairment for women but most were spent with disability, although the gains were in mild rather than more severe disability.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Prof. Jagger: Health services still seem to be much better at saving lives than reducing the disabling consequences of diseases. Clinicians should optimally manage pain and recommend therapies to ensure that older people with mild disability can remain active.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Prof. Jagger: Our future research will explore which diseases and conditions are responsible for the increase in mild disability and whether inequalities between social groups in disability-free life expectancy have widened over the 20 years.
A comparison of health expectancies over two decades in England: results of the Cognitive Function and Ageing Study I and II
Jagger, Carol et al.The Lancet Published Online:08 December 2015
Prof. Carol Jagger (2015). Health Care Still Better At Extending Life Than Preventing Disability MedicalResearch.com