Healthy in old age: today, the hundred is the new 80

Every second child living in a developed country this century will reach an age of 100 years or more
People in Germany are getting older. Scientists at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have investigated whether increasing aging is associated with serious illnesses and whether increasing life expectancy is therefore desirable. The researchers came across interesting connections and explanations.

Are centenarians role models for healthy and successful aging? Or is particularly old age inextricably linked to increasing diseases? What diseases are common among people who have reached 100 years of age? Scientists at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have investigated how the course of the disease in centenarians presents themselves at the end of life.

It turned out that the number of illnesses among people who died at the age of one hundred and older was lower than that of those who died at 90 to 99 years or 80 to 89 years. The entire results of the study are published in The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences *.

Forty years ago, only about one in 10,000 people in the industrialized nations reached the age of 100 or even more. Nowadays it is assumed that every second child living in a developed country this century will reach an age of 100 years or more. But is old age associated with increasing illnesses? There is evidence that centenarians suffer from fewer illnesses compared to younger cohorts of very old people. In dealing with aging societies, one speaks of the thesis of a compression of the incidence of diseases, that is, the onset of age-related illnesses and disabilities is increasingly shifted into old age, i.e. compressed.

"Our goal was also to better understand the development of the number of chronic diseases, it is called multimorbidity, and their end-life progression in centenarians," explains Dr. Paul Gellert from the Institute for Medical Sociology and Rehabilitation Science at the Charité.

The scientists examined routine data from the Knappschaft health and long-term care insurance fund on the diagnoses and health care of around 1,400 very old people within the period of six years before their death. They were divided into three groups for analysis. Those who died as centenarians have been compared to random samples of individuals who died in their 80s or 90s. People living at home and people in care facilities were equally considered in the study.

The decisive factors for the evaluation were primarily those diseases that are usually associated with death during a hospital stay, according to the Elixhauser morbidity index. "In the quarter before death, people who died as centenarians had an average of 3.3 illnesses, compared to an average of 4.6 illnesses among those who died as 80-year-olds," summarizes Dr. Gellert together. "Our results also show that the increase in disease in the last few years before death was lower in very old people compared to those who died at 90 to 99 years or 80 to 89 years."

If the dementia diseases and musculoskeletal disorders that are common in old age are included in the evaluation, almost half of the 100-year-olds have five or more diseases, more than 60 percent of the 90-year-old and 66 percent of the 80-year-olds having the same Number of diseases is coming. While dementia and heart failure are more common in centenarians than in the younger high age group, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, renal failure and chronic diseases are less common among those who have died a hundred years ago. Musculoskeletal disorders are equally common in all groups. Old age and the number of illnesses are interrelated. The extent of this, however, has to be considered differently.

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