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Declining physical abilities with age: a cross-sectional study of older twins and centenarians in Denmark

Andersen-Ranberg, K., Christensen, K., Jeune, B., Skytthe, A., Vasegaard, L., Vaupel, J. W.

Age and Ageing, 28:4, 373-377 (1999)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether physical disability reaches a plateau in the oldest age groups. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3351 individuals, which included all those living in Denmark who celebrated their 100th anniversary during the period from 1 April 1995 to 31 May 1996 (276 subjects) and all Danish twins aged 75-94 registered in the Danish Twin Register (3075 subjects). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The ability to perform selected items of basic activities of daily living independently. RESULTS: The prevalence of independence in each of six selected activities of daily living was significantly lower in both men and women centenarians compared with octo- and septuagenarians. The sex difference in independence in all six selected activities of daily living was larger for each advancing age group, with women being most disabled (P < 0.001). In centenarians 20% of women and 44% of men were able to perform all selected activities of daily living independently. CONCLUSION: Comparedwith individuals aged 75-79 years, physical abilities of men and women gradually diminished in age groups 80-84, 85-90 and 90-94, with the lowest levels among 100-year-olds. Although women have lower mortality, they are more disabled than men, and this difference is more marked with advancing age. (© 1999 BRITISH GERIATRICS SOCIETY)

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