Population aging increases the need for knowledge on positive aspects of aging, and contributions of older people to their own wellbeing and that of others. We defined active aging as an individual's striving for elements of wellbeing with activities as per their goals, abilities and opportunities. This study examines associations of health, health behaviors, health literacy and functional abilities, environmental and social support with active aging and wellbeing. We will develop and validate assessment methods for physical activity and physical resilience suitable for research on older people, and examine their associations with active aging and wellbeing. We will examine cohort effects on functional phenotypes underlying active aging and disability.
For this population-based study, we plan to recruit 1000 participants aged 75, 80 or 85 years living in central Finland, by drawing personal details from the population register. Participants are interviewed on active aging, wellbeing, disability, environmental and social support, mobility, health behavior and health literacy. Physical activity and heart rate are monitored for 7 days with wearable sensors. Functional tests include hearing, vision, muscle strength, reaction time, exercise tolerance, mobility, and cognitive performance. Clinical examination by a nurse and physician includes an electrocardiogram, tests of blood pressure, orthostatic regulation, arterial stiffness, and lung function, as well as a review of chronic and acute conditions and prescribed medications. C-reactive protein, small blood count, cholesterol and vitamin D are analyzed from blood samples. Associations of factors potentially underlying active aging and wellbeing will be studied using multivariate methods. Cohort effects will be studied by comparing test results of physical and cognitive functioning with results of a cohort examined in 1989-90.
The current study will renew research on positive gerontology through the novel approach to active aging and by suggesting new biomarkers of resilience and active aging. Therefore, high interdisciplinary impact is expected. This cross-sectional study will not provide knowledge on temporal order of events or causality, but an innovative cross-sectional dataset provides opportunities for emergence of novel creative hypotheses and theories.
This study examined the feasibility of the HLS-EU-Q16 (in Finnish) for use among older Finns and whether the health literacy score correlates with indicators of health and functioning.
To determine the feasibility of the instrument, we first conducted a focus group discussion with nine participants. For the quantitative analyses, we used data from the AGNES cohort study, collected between October 2017 and April 2018 at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. 292 75-year-old Finnish men and women were interviewed face-to-face in their homes. Health literacy was measured with the HLS-EU-Q16 and health literacy score, ranging from 0 to 50, computed. The reproducibility of the instrument was test-retested. Chi-square tests were used to compare health literacy scores between participants by different socioeconomic variables, and Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated to study the associations of health literacy with cognition, depressive symptoms, chronic conditions, life-space mobility and physical performance.
The mean health literacy score for all participants was 35.05 (SD 6.32). Participants who rated their financial situation and self-rated health as very good had the highest health literacy scores (38.85, SD 5.09 and 39.22, SD 6.77, respectively). Better health literacy was associated with better cognitive status, fewer depressive symptoms and chronic conditions, higher life-space mobility and better physical performance.
The HLS-EU-Q16 is a feasible measure for research purposes among older Finns. The associations between health literacy and indicators of health and functioning need to be more closely investigated in larger samples with a wider age-range.
To examine the association between obesity history and hand grip strength, and whether the association is partly explained by subclinical inflammation and insulin resistance.
Data are from 2,021 men and women aged 55 years and older participating in the representative population-based Health 2000 Survey in Finland. Body mass and body height, maximal hand grip strength, C-reactive protein, and insulin resistance based on homeostasis model assessment (HOMA-IR) were measured in a health examination. Recalled weight at 20, 30, 40, and 50 years of age were recorded to obtain a hierarchical classification of obesity history. Obesity was defined as body mass index = 30 kg/m².
Earlier onset of obesity was associated with lower hand grip strength (p
This cross-sectional study investigated associations between reasons to go outdoors and objectively-measured walking activity in various life-space areas among older people. During the study, 174 community-dwelling older people aged 75-90 from central Finland wore an accelerometer over seven days and recorded their reasons to go outdoors in an activity diary. The most common reasons for going outdoors were shopping, walking for exercise, social visits, and running errands. Activities done in multiple life-space areas contributed more to daily step counts than those done in the neighborhood or town and beyond. Those who went shopping or walked for exercise accumulated higher daily step counts than those who did not go outdoors for these reasons. These results show that shopping and walking for exercise are common reasons to go outdoors for community-dwelling older people and may facilitate walking activity in older age. Future studies on how individual trips contribute to the accumulation of steps are warranted.
To profile participants based on reported outdoor physical activity barriers using a data-driven approach, describe the profiles and study their association with unmet physical activity need.
Cross-sectional analyses of 848 community-dwelling men and women aged 75-90 living in Central Finland in 2012. Barriers to outdoor physical activity and unmet physical activity need were enquired with a questionnaire. The latent profiles were identified by profiling participants into latent groups using a mixture modeling technique on the multivariate set of indicators of outdoor physical activity barriers. A path model was used to study the associations of the profiles with unmet physical activity need.
Five barrier profiles were identified. Profile A was characterized with minor barriers, profile B with weather barriers, profile C with health and weather barriers, profile D with barriers concerning insecurity, health and weather; and profile E with mobility and health barriers. The participants in the profiles differed in the proportion of individual and environmental barriers. The risk for unmet physical activity need was highest among people whose severe mobility difficulties restricted their outdoor physical activity.
Outdoor physical activity barriers reflect the imbalance in person-environment fit among older people, manifested as unmet physical activity need.
The study reports on the associations of infant and childhood anthropometric measurements, early growth, and the combined effect of birth weight and childhood body mass index with older age physical functioning among 1,999 individuals born in 1934-1944 and belonging to the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. Physical functioning was assessed by the Short Form 36 scale. Anthropometric data from infancy and childhood were retrieved from medical records. The risk of lower Short Form 36 physical functioning at the mean age of 61.6 years was increased for those with birth weight less than 2.5 kg compared with those weighing 3.0-3.5 kg at birth (odds ratio (OR) = 2.73, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.57, 4.72). The gain in weight from birth to age 2 years was associated with decreased risk of lower physical functioning for a 1-standard deviation increase (OR = 0.84, 95% CI: 0.75, 0.94). The risk of lower physical functioning was highest for individuals with birth weight in the lowest third and body mass index at 11 years of age in the highest third compared with those whose birth weight was in the middle third and body mass index at age 11 years was in the highest third (OR = 3.08, 95% CI: 1.83, 5.19). The increasing prevalence of obesity at all ages and the aging of populations warrant closer investigation of the role of weight trajectories in old age functional decline.
In older adults, mobility limitations often coexist with overweight or obesity, suggesting that similar factors may underlie both traits. This study examined the extent to which genetic and environmental influences explain the association between adiposity and mobility in older women. Body fat percentage (bioimpedance test), walking speed over 10 m, and distance walked in a 6-min test were evaluated in 92 monozygotic (MZ) and 104 dizygotic (DZ) pairs of twin sisters reared together, aged 63-76 years. Genetic and environmental influences on each trait were estimated using age-adjusted multivariate genetic modeling. The analyses showed that the means (and s.d.) for body fat percentage, walking speed, and walking endurance were 33.2+/-7.3%, 1.7+/-0.3 m/s and 529.7+/-75.4 m, respectively. The phenotypic correlation between adiposity and walking speed was -0.32 and between adiposity and endurance it was -0.33. Genetic influences explained 80% of the association between adiposity and speed, and 65% of adiposity and walking endurance. Cross-trait genetic influences accounted for 12% of the variability in adiposity, 56% in walking speed, and 34% in endurance. Trait-specific genetic influences were also detected for adiposity (54%) and walking endurance (13%), but not speed. In conclusion, among community-living older women, an inverse association was found between adiposity and mobility that was mostly due to the effect of shared genes. This result suggests that the identification of genetic variants for body fat metabolism may also provide understanding of the development of mobility limitations in older women.
The purpose of this prospective study was to describe changes in subjective age over an 8-year period among community-dwelling people aged 65 to 84 years in Finland. At the baseline 1155 respondents met study criteria and 451 of these participated in the follow-up study. Participants described in years the age they felt themselves to be (feel age) and their preferred age (ideal age). Discrepancy scores relative to chronological age were calculated for feel age and ideal age. No significant mean-level changes were observed in the age discrepancy scores over the 8-year time frame. The baseline discrepancy between chronological and feel age remained constant among 48% of the participants, with 26% reporting a younger and 26% an older feel age. Similar patterns were observed in the discrepancy between chronological age and ideal age. The findings point both to stability and to individual variability in feel and preferred age identification over time in older adults.
A mixed picture emerges from the international literature about secular and cohort changes in the health and functioning of older adults. We conducted a repeated population based cross-sectional study to determine trends in health, functioning and physical activity in the young old Finnish population.
Representative samples of community-dwelling people aged 65-69 years in 1988 (n=362), 1996 (n=320) and 2004 (n=292) were compared in socio-economic status, self-rated health, chronic diseases, memory problems, ability to carry out instrumental activities of daily living, physical activity, and five-year mortality.
Significant improvement in all the investigated modalities, except that of chronic diseases, was observed in the newer cohorts. In logistic regression analysis, after controlling for socioeconomic status and gender, cohort effects remained significant for memory problems, IADL difficulties and physical activity. Cox regression analyses showed significant improvement in survival when later cohorts were compared with the earlier ones.
This study provides evidence of improving levels of socio-economic status, self-rated health, functioning, physical activity, and lower risk of mortality in the newer cohorts of the Finnish young-old, but this was not accompanied by a parallel diminution in chronic diseases.
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and physical performance have been shown to be associated with mortality, but it is not clear whether one of them modifies the association. We investigated the association between the extent of CAC and physical performance among older individuals and explored these individual and combined effects on cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and non-CVD mortality.
We studied 4074 participants of the AGES-Reykjavik Study who were free from coronary heart disease, had a CAC score calculated from computed tomography scans and had data on mobility limitations and gait speed at baseline in 2002-2006 at a mean age of 76 years. Register-based mortality was available until 2009.
Odds for mobility limitation and slow gait increased according to the extent of CAC. Altogether 645 persons died during the follow-up. High CAC, mobility limitation and slow gait were independent predictors of CVD mortality and non-CVD mortality. The joint effect of CAC and gait speed on non-CVD mortality was synergistic, i.e. compared to having low CAC and normal gait, the joint effect of high CAC and slow gait exceeded the additive effect of these individual exposures on non-CVD mortality. For CVD mortality, the effect was additive i.e. the joint effect of high CAC and slow gait did not exceed the sum of the individual exposures.
The extent of CAC and decreased physical performance were independent predictors of mortality and the joint presence of these risk factors increased the risk of non-CVD mortality above and beyond the individual effects.
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The aim of this study was to analyze whether the associations between perceived environmental and individual characteristics and perceived walking limitations in older people differ between those with intact and those with poorer lower extremity performance.
Persons aged 75 to 90 ( N = 834) participated in interviews and performance tests in their homes. Standard questionnaires were used to obtain walking difficulties; environmental barriers to and, facilitators of, mobility; and perceived individual hindrances to outdoor mobility. Lower extremity performance was tested using Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB).
Among those with poorer lower extremity performance, the likelihood for advanced walking limitations was, in particular, related to perceived poor safety in the environment, and among those with intact performance to perceived social issues, such as lack of company, as well as to long distances.
The environmental correlates of walking limitations seem to depend on the level of lower extremity performance.
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is known to be associated with mortality, but its association with age-related decline in physical functioning and the development of disability is less clear. This study examined the associations between LTL and physical functioning, and investigated whether LTL predicts level of physical functioning over an 11-year follow-up. Older mono- (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twin sisters (n = 386) participated in the study. Relative LTL was measured by qPCR at baseline. Physical functioning was measured by 6-min walking distance and level of physical activity (PA). Walking distance was measured at baseline and at 3-year follow-up. PA was assessed by questionnaire at baseline and at 3- and 11-year follow-ups. The baseline analysis was performed with path models, adjusted with age and within-pair dependence of twin pairs. The longitudinal analysis was performed with a repeated measures linear model adjusted for age and longitudinal within-pair dependence. A nonrandom missing data analysis was utilized. At baseline, in all individuals, LTL was associated with PA (est. 0.14, SE 0.06, p = 0.011), but not with walking distance. Over the follow-up, a borderline significant association was observed between LTL and walking distance (est. 0.14, SE 0.07, p = 0.060) and a significant association between LTL and PA (est. 0.19, SE 0.06, p = 0.001). The results suggest that LTL is associated with PA and may, therefore, serve as a biomarker predicting the development of disability. Longitudinal associations between LTL and PA were observed only when nonrandom data missingness was taken into account in the analysis.
Overweight and obesity in childhood have been linked to an increased risk of adult mortality, but evidence is still scarce.
We identified trajectories of body mass index (BMI) development in early life and investigated their mortality risk. Data come from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, in which 4943 individuals, born 1934-1944, had serial measures of weight and height from birth to 11 years extracted from health care records, weight and height data in adulthood, and register-based mortality data for 2000-2010.
Three early BMI trajectories (increasing, average, and average-to-low for men and increasing, average, and low-to-high BMI for women) were identified. Women with an increasing or low-to-high BMI (BMI lower in early childhood, later exceeded average) trajectory had an increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to those with an average BMI trajectory (HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.07-2.23; and HR 1.57, 95% CI 1.04-2.37, respectively). Similar associations were observed for cancer mortality. Among men, BMI trajectories were not associated with all-cause mortality, but those with average-to-low BMI (BMI first similar then dropped below average) had an increased risk of cancer mortality.
An increasing BMI in early life may shorten the lifespan of maturing cohorts as they age, particularly among women.
This study examined effects of a social intervention on depressive symptoms, melancholy, loneliness, and perceived togetherness in community-dwelling Finnish older people.
Promotion of mental well-being in older people (GoodMood; ISRCTN78426775) was a single-blinded randomized control trial lasting 1.5 years. Two hundred and twenty-three persons aged 75-79 years reporting symptoms of loneliness or melancholy were randomized into intervention and control groups. The intervention group was allowed to choose among supervised exercise, social activity, or personal counseling. Follow-up measurements were conducted at the end of 6-month intervention, and at 3, 6, and 12 months post intervention.
Number of depressive symptoms remained unchanged, while loneliness and melancholy decreased in both the intervention and control groups during the study (p
Obesity among older persons is rapidly increasing, thus affecting their mobility negatively. The aim of this study was to examine the association of high body mass index (BMI) with walking limitation, and the effect of obesity-related diseases on this association.
In a representative sample of the Finnish population of 55 years and older (2055 women and 1337 men), maximal walking speed, chronic diseases, and BMI were ascertained in a health examination. Walking limitation was defined as maximal walking speed of less than 1.2 m/s or difficulty in walking 500 meters. To analyze the effects of chronic conditions, smoking, marital status, and education on BMI class differences in walking limitation, covariates were sequentially adjusted in logistic regression analyses.
In women, an increasing gradient in the age-adjusted risk of walking limitation was observed with higher BMI: overweight (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.10-1.96), obese (OR 2.77, 95% CI 2.01-3.82), and severely obese (OR 5.80, 95% CI 3.52-9.54). In men, the risk was significantly increased among the obese (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.04-2.55) and severely obese (OR 4.33, 95% CI 2.20- 8.53). After adjustment of multiple covariates, the association remained significant among the obese (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.38-2.86) and severely obese women (OR 3.64, 95% CI 2.12-6.26), as well as severely obese men (OR 2.78, 95% CI 1.30-5.95). Knee osteoarthritis in women and diabetes in men contributed most to the excess risk of walking limitation among obese persons, 18 and 32% respectively.
Obesity increases the risk of walking limitation, independent of obesity-related diseases, smoking, marital status, and education, especially in older women. The results of this study emphasize the importance of maintaining normal body weight, in order to prevent obesity-related health risks and loss of functioning in older age.
The aim of this study was to describe the underlying theory and the implementation of a 2-year individualized physical activity counseling intervention and to evaluate whether benefits persisted 1.5 years after the intervention. The sample included 632 sedentary 75- to 81-year-old participants. Data were collected in 2003-2005. The participants were randomly assigned to an intervention group and a control group. The intervention consisted of an individualized face-to-face meeting followed by telephone contacts every 4 months for 2 years, with the aim to increase participation in specific physical activities as well as to increase habitual physical activity. At the 2-year follow-up, the prevalence of physical activities in the intervention group vs. control group was as follows: supervised calisthenics training 20 vs. 16%, walking for fitness 69 vs. 62%, weight training 13 vs. 8% and water aerobics 19 vs. 7%. For water aerobics and walking for fitness, the treatment effect was significant [water aerobics odds ratio (OR) 2.49, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-5.36, walking for fitness OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.05-2.40]. As to the other activities, the effect did not reach statistical significance. At the 1.5-year post-intervention, the follow-up results indicated that the intervention effect was still evident. The subgroup analyses suggested that physical activity counseling may be most efficacious among people with intact mobility, while those having manifest mobility limitations may not benefit from it. Older people who have manifest mobility limitations may need more face-to-face counseling.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether persistent leisure-time physical activity, adjusted for genetic liability and childhood experiences, protects against chronic diseases, early signs of disability, and loss of life satisfaction.
From 5663 healthy adult twin pairs, we identified 146 pairs who were discordant for both intensity and volume of leisure physical activity in 1975 and 1981. Of them, both members of 95 pairs were alive and participated in our follow-up study in 2005 when chronic diseases (such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis), life satisfaction, and disability were assessed by a structured telephone interview. The mean age of the participants was 58 yr (range = 47-79 yr) in 2005. Paired tests were used in the analyses.
At the end of follow-up, the active cotwins had a decreased risk of reporting at least one chronic diseases, whereas active monozygotic (MZ) twins had two or more chronic diseases significantly less often than their inactive cotwins (odds ratio [OR] = 0.14, P = 0.031). Overall, the risk for type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance (OR = 0.09, P = 0.022) and elevated blood pressure (OR = 0.46, P = 0.039) was decreased among the active cotwins. These effects were seen clearly among dizygotic twins but not always among small number of monozygotic twins. The active cotwins reported greater life satisfaction (P = 0.047) and tended to be less likely to be hospitalized (P = 0.065), although active cotwins had somewhat more sports-related injuries (OR = 1.9, P = 0.051) than inactive cotwins. Studied disability variables did not differ between the active and the inactive cotwins.
Physical activity reduces the risk for chronic diseases and helps in maintaining life satisfaction. However, genetic factors may play a role in this association because some findings emerged more clearly among dizygotic than monozygotic twins discordant for physical activity.
To assess the effect of a comprehensive geriatric assessment and individually tailored intervention on mobility in older people. In addition, the effectiveness of the geriatric intervention was evaluated among a subgroup of persons with musculoskeletal pain.
Three-year geriatric development project with randomized assignment to intervention and control group.
Research centre, community and assisted living facilities.
Seven hundred and eighty-one Finnish persons aged 75-98 years were assigned to an intervention (n = 404) or control (n = 377) group.
A comprehensive geriatric assessment with a multifactorial intervention lasting two years. The intervention included individualized referrals, recommendations, physical activity counselling and supervised resistance training.
Perceived limitation in walking 400m was gathered annually during the intervention and at the one-year post-intervention follow-up.
The proportion of persons with mobility limitation at the beginning, at the two-year intervention and at the one-year post-intervention follow-up was 16%, 15%, 12% and 14%, respectively, in the intervention group. In the control group, the corresponding proportions were 19%, 18%, 23% and 26%. The treatment effect was significant at the end of the two-year intervention (odds ratio 0.82, 95% confidence interval 0.70-0.96, P = 0.013), and at the one-year post-intervention follow-up (0.84, 0.75-0.94, P = 0.002). The parallel positive effect of the intervention on mobility was even greater among persons with musculoskeletal pain.
The comprehensive geriatric assessment and individually tailored multifactorial intervention had a positive effect on mobility, underlining their importance in health promotion and disability prevention in older people.
To examine the effects of physical activity counseling on mood among older people unselected for their depressive symptomatology.
Data are from "Screening and Counseling for Physical Activity and Mobility in Older People" project (SCAMOB), conducted in Finland during 2003-2005. SCAMOB was a 2-year single-blinded randomized controlled trial among 624 participants 75 years and older randomized into physical activity counseling group and control group. Depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and after 24 months using Center for the Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
Among all the study participants, no effect of intervention was observed. However, among subgroup with minor depressive symptoms at baseline, a significant treatment effect was observed, where depressive symptoms decreased in the intervention group and increased in the control group.
These findings suggest that physical activity counseling may reduce depression among those with minor depressive symptoms, which warrants for future studies.