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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Disability in the oldest-old: incidence and risk factors in the 90+ study.


: To measure the incidence of disability in individuals aged 90 years and older and examine factors that may increase risk of disability.

: The 90+ Study, a longitudinal study of aging, initiated in January 2003 with follow-up through May 2009.

: A total of 216 nondisabled, prospectively followed participants who were aged 90 years or older at baseline.

: The incidence of disability was measured as needing help on one or more activities of daily living and calculated using person years. Risk factors were examined by using a Cox proportional hazards analysis.

: The overall incidence of disability was 16.4% per year (95% confidence interval: 13.3-20.0) and did not differ by gender. Disability incidence increased with age from 8.3% in the 90-94 age group to 25.7% in the 95 years and older age group. Several factors were associated with increased risk of disability, including history of congestive heart failure, depression, poor self-rated quality of life, and cognitive impairment.

: Disability incidence is high and increases rapidly with age in the oldest-old, with rates essentially tripling between ages 90-94 years and 95+ years. Some factors associated with increased risk of disability in younger elderly continue to be risk factors in the oldest-old. Because of the tremendous social and financial impact of disability and the rapid growth of the oldest-old, the development of strategies to delay disability in the elderly should be a priority for healthcare research.

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