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Longitudinal studies describing centenarians' health trajectories are currently lacking. We compared health trajectories of older adults becoming centenarians and their shorter-living counterparts in terms of chronic diseases, disability, and cognitive decline. We identified 3,573 individuals participating in the Kungsholmen Project and the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen who lived <100 years and 222 who survived to their 100th birthday. Trajectories of chronic diseases, disability (impaired activities of daily living), and cognitive status were obtained via linear mixed models over 13 years. Centenarians had fewer chronic diseases than noncentenarians. Before age 85, centenarians showed slower health changes. In centenarians, multimorbidity, disability, and cognitive impairment occurred 4 to 9 years later than in noncentenarians. After age 85, the speed of accumulation of chronic diseases, disabilities, and cognitive decline accelerated in centenarians. At age 100, 39% of the centenarians were cognitively intact and 55% had escaped disability. Only 5% were free of multimorbidity at age 100. When compared with their shorter lived counterparts, in terms of years spent in poor health, centenarians experienced more years with multimorbidity (9.4 vs 6.8 years; p < .001), disability (4.3 vs 3.1 years; p = .005), and cognitive impairment (6.3 vs 4.3 years; p < .001). Older people who become centenarians present a delay in the onset of morbidity, but spend more years in this condition compared to their shorter lived peers. The observation of older adults' health trajectories might help to forecast healthier aging, and plan future medical and social care delivery. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.


Davide L Vetrano, Giulia Grande, Alessandra Marengoni, Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga, Debora Rizzuto. Health Trajectories in Swedish Centenarians. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences. 2020 Jun 22;76(1):157-163

PMID: 32569349

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