Secular trends in functional abilities, health and psychological well-being among community-dwelling 75-to 95-year-old cohorts over three decades in Helsinki, Finland

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Background: Life expectancy has increased markedly in the past decades. Thus, it is of great importance to understand how people are ageing and if the trajectories of health and disability are changing over time. This study aimed to examine trends in functional abilities and health in independent cohorts of people aged 75-95 over three decades. Methods: This Helsinki Ageing Study consists of repeated cross-sectional postal surveys examining independent cohorts of old people (75, 80, 85 and 90+ years old). This study combined data from four waves (1989, 1999, 2009 and 2019). Results: In the most recent wave, there was an increase in the portion of participants who were able to walk outdoors easily (75-year-olds p=0.03, 80-year-olds p=0.002, 85-year-olds pp for linearity for the study year effect, all adjusted for sex). Fewer people in the youngest age group (75-year-olds) needed daily help from another person in 2019 compared to the earlier waves (p=0.02 for linearity for the study year). Over the past three decades, the proportions of self-reported good mobility have risen 8.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) 2.3-15.1) in 75-year-olds, 11.7% (95% CI 3.9-19.6) in 80-year-olds and 20.1% (95% CI 10.7-29.4) in 85-year-olds, after adjusting for sex. Furthermore, in 2019, more people rated their health as good and scored better in psychological well-being than in the previous waves among 75-, 80- and 85-year-olds. However, no improvements were found among 90+-year-olds in any of these variables. Conclusions: People between 75 and 85 years old are presently feeling and functioning better than their predecessors. This may be an important objective for both economics and health policy.

TidskriftScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Sidor (från-till)524–531
Antal sidor8
StatusPublicerad - 2022
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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