Over 85s Function Well Despite Disease and Disability

'Oldest old' are fastest growing segment of the global population
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Elders over the age of 85 report good health and functional ability despite the fact that they have to contend with a range of diseases and disabilities; however, as the fastest growing segment of the world's population, the health needs of future generations of over 85s represent a profound challenge, according to a study published online Dec. 22 in BMJ.

Joanna Collerton, of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,453 people aged 85 and above. They conducted health assessments of a maximum of 853 patients and reviewed records for a maximum of 1,030 patients.

Hypertension and osteoarthritis were the two most common diseases, found in 57.5 and 51.8 percent of cases, respectively. Hearing impairment affected 59.6 percent of patients, 37.2 percent were visually impaired, and 21.3 percent had profound urinary incontinence, the researchers found. Despite this, 77.6 percent of respondents rated their health as good, very good, or excellent.

"Our study shows the opportunities available to intervene to improve health further in this age group," the authors write. "If the data are extrapolated to the future, much larger, populations of 85 year olds in developed countries, implications for health and social care and the resources needed to provide these are profound."

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