There has been much debate regarding the degree to which healthy lifestyles can increase longevity and whether added years will be offset by increased morbidity at older ages. This study was designed to test the compression of morbidity hypothesis, proposing that healthy lifestyles can reduce and compress disability into a shorter period toward the end of life.
Functional status in 418 deceased members of an aging cohort was observed between 1986 and 1998 in relationship to lifestyle-related risk factors, including cigarette smoking, physical inactivity, and under- or overweight. Three risk groups were created based on the number of these factors at study entry. Disability scores prior to death were modeled for each risk group to compare levels and rates of change, as well as to determine if and when acceleration in functional decline occurred.
The risk-factor-free group showed average disability scores near zero 10-12 years before death, rising slowly over time, without evidence of accelerated functional decline. In contrast, those with two or more factors maintained a greater level of disability throughout follow-up and experienced an increase in the rate of decline 1.5 years prior to death. For those at moderate risk, the rate of decline increased significantly only in the last 3 months of life. Other differences between groups provided no alternative explanations for the findings.
These results make a compelling argument for the reduction and postponement of disability with healthier lifestyles as proposed by the compression of morbidity hypothesis.
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"They included participants in our prior cohort studies (n = 2,490) from the Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Aging Medical Information System (ARAMIS) . ARAMIS participants were composed of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis populations (n = 1,496) and healthy aging populations from the University of Pennsylvania longitudinal studies of aging (n = 325)  and the aging, osteoarthritis and exercise study (n = 669) . We also added 30 additional participants from a local nursing home for floor item assessment, and 203 participants from a club of ultra-marathoners for ceiling item assessment. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Disability and Physical Function (PF) outcome assessment has had limited ability to measure functional status at the floor (very poor functional abilities) or the ceiling (very high functional abilities). We sought to identify, develop and evaluate new floor and ceiling items to enable broader and more precise assessment of PF outcomes for the NIH Patient-Reported-Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS).
We conducted two cross-sectional studies using NIH PROMIS item improvement protocols with expert review, participant survey and focus group methods. In Study 1, respondents with low PF abilities evaluated new floor items, and those with high PF abilities evaluated new ceiling items for clarity, importance and relevance. In Study 2, we compared difficulty ratings of new floor items by low functioning respondents and ceiling items by high functioning respondents to reference PROMIS PF-10 items. We used frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations to analyze the data.
In Study 1, low (n = 84) and high (n = 90) functioning respondents were mostly White, women, 70 years old, with some college, and disability scores of 0.62 and 0.30. More than 90% of the 31 new floor and 31 new ceiling items were rated as clear, important and relevant, leaving 26 ceiling and 30 floor items for Study 2. Low (n = 246) and high (n = 637) functioning Study 2 respondents were mostly White, women, 70 years old, with some college, and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores of 1.62 and 0.003. Compared to difficulty ratings of reference items, ceiling items were rated to be 10% more to greater than 40% more difficult to do, and floor items were rated to be about 12% to nearly 90% less difficult to do.
These new floor and ceiling items considerably extend the measurable range of physical function at either extreme. They will help improve instrument performance in populations with broad functional ranges and those concentrated at one or the other extreme ends of functioning. Optimal use of these new items will be assisted by computerized adaptive testing (CAT), reducing questionnaire burden and insuring item administration to appropriate individuals.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Arthritis research & therapy
"The benefits of physical activity have been widely published in the literature. The many advantages of physical activity include promoting health and well-being, delaying or preventing the onset of chronic disease and disability, and reducing mortality [1, 2]. Despite the well-known benefits of physical activity and the public health efforts to promote physical activity, physical inactivity remains a concern throughout the world [3, 4]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study sought to investigate the prevalence of physical inactivity and related barriers in older Brazilian adults. A cross-sectional, population-based study was conducted, and a stratified random sampling procedure was used. A total of 359 older adults were interviewed. The long version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and the Questionnaire of Barriers to Physical Activity Practice were used to assess physical activity level and barriers, respectively. No statistically significant difference was observed on the prevalence of physical inactivity in either gender or age groups. Regarding barriers, the proportion of 9 out of 22 barriers was statistically significant between men and women. Self-reported physical inactivity/activity in older Brazilian adults continues to be a concern. Uncommonly, older males reported a higher prevalence of physical inactivity compared to their counterparts. Additionally, physical inactivity prevalence continued to increase with the aging process. Yet, personal barriers such as lack of time and poor health were strongly associated with physical inactivity. The results of this study may help health professionals and public policy makers to better address the issues related to a healthy lifestyle among older adults and promote physical activity among Brazilian older adults and in other countries with similar characteristics.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Journal of aging research
"More recently, research has shown that the health hazards of major risk behaviors, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity, are evident not just among young and middle-aged adults, but also among older adults [2-5]. Strong linkages have also been reported between positive health habits and the postponement of mobility impairment and disability in later life [6-9]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
This study examines the mortality risk associated with distinct combinations of multiple risk behaviors in middle-aged and older adults, and assesses whether the mortality risks of certain health behaviors are moderated by the presence of other risk behaviors.
Data for this prospective cohort study are from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationwide sample of adults older than 50 years. Baseline data are from respondents (n = 19,662) to the 1998 wave of the HRS. Twelve distinct health behavior profiles were created, based on each respondent’s smoking, physical activity, and alcohol use status in 1998. Mortality risk was estimated through 2008 using Cox regression.
Smoking was associated with elevated risk for mortality within all behavioral profiles, but risk was greatest when combined with heavy drinking, both for middle-aged (ages 51–65) and older (ages 66+) adults. Profiles that included physical inactivity were also associated with increased mortality risk in both age groups. However, the impact of inactivity was clearly evident only among non-smokers; among smokers, the risk of inactivity was less evident, and seemingly overshadowed by the risk of smoking. Moderate drinking was protective relative to abstinence among non-smokers, and relative to heavy drinking among smokers.
In both middle-aged and older adults, multiple unhealthy behaviors increase mortality risk. However, the level of risk varies across unique combinations of unhealthy behaviors. These findings highlight the role that lifestyle improvements could play in promoting healthy aging, and provide insight into which behavioral combinations should receive top priority for intervention.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2012 · BMC Public Health