European and Nordic studies on health and survival inequality

Slower Decline in Cognitive and Physical Functioning in Later Born Cohorts of Elderly – Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)

In the last one-and-half century, our lifespan has been increasing with approximately six hours per day. An important question for the individuals experiencing the extra life-time and for the governments providing health care is whether the increase in lifespan goes hand in hand with an increase in time spent in good or bad health. As such healthy ageing is a fundamental premise for achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the project, we investigate whether the cognitive and physical functioning of the younger elderly (50-79-year-old) also have shown less decline with successive birth cohorts. We hypothesize that younger elderly in the earlier born cohorts have steeper trajectories of cognitive and physical decline than the younger elderly in the later born cohorts suggesting postponement of age-related diseases to higher ages.

People:
Martina Otavova
Linda Ahrenfeldt
Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen
Maarten Wensink

Development and Sex-Disparity in Health Adjusted Life Expectancy in the European Population

Knowledge on the development in HALE in relation to Frailty and Cognitive Impairment for the European Population is very limited. The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), initiated in 2004, is ideal for studying cross-country differences in healthy ageing and HALE across Europe. However, due to the sampling- and data collection process of the survey, selection- and information bias may be present in the data and influencing results. Additionally, the mortality follow-up in SHARE is of poor validity, which puts constraints on the applicability of different methods for measuring HALE. The overall aim of the research project, is to evaluate the development and sex-disparity in Health Adjusted Life Expectancy in the European Population, as well as addressing the associated validity- and methodological issues.

People:
Camilla Riis Nielsen
Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen
Linda Ahrenfeldt

Nord-life 90+ – health and subjective wellbeing of the 4th Age in the Nordic welfare states

Demographic transition, particularly the very fast growing number of oldest old citizens is challenging the Nordic societies. Aging of society has attracted widespread attention and triggered debates on the financial sustainability of old age pensions, the threat of rising cost for health and care, changing intergenerational relations etc. The Nordic welfare societies are not only institutional arrangements for social security and health systems, they also rely on values such as social solidarity, equality, individual autonomy and well-being. In other words, Nordic societies have social responsibility also for this fast-growing group of older citizens, for their wellbeing, health, and inclusion into society.

In order to achieve this goal, we need to develop a deeper and more advanced understanding of what constitutes quality of life for the oldest old. Aging is not an external shock in the sense that it comes as a surprise. Demographic forecasting is well-established. The life sciences have studied the biological and physical processes of aging. Social sciences and humanities have studied the societal and cultural consequences of and individual responses to aging. However, it is not given that existing knowledge and conceptualizations of health and well-being can easily be extended to also cover the groups of very old citizens. The goal of our project is to facilitate new cross-disciplinary research on health and wellbeing in the 4th Age (90+) in the Nordic countries.

We will develop a more comprehensive (holistic) understanding and more advanced measurement of health, well-being and inequality for the growing number of very old. Key aspects of the project will include: combing quantitative and qualitative studies of health, well-being and inequality; critically testing existing conceptualizations of health, well-being and inequality; and including an ‘end-of-life’ perspective rather than exclusively focusing on a ‘long-life’ perspective. We will develop an innovative approach to conceptualizing health and wellbeing of the 90+, and provide knowledge-based policy advice for better inclusion of this fast-growing group of citizens.

People:
Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen
Peter Simonsen
Klaus Petersen