The aim was to compare the pattern of associations in measures of socio-economic position and disability among British and Finnish older women. In Britain data from the British Women's Heart and Health Study was used. Women from 23 towns took part in a nurse-assessed medical examination and postal questionnaire (n = 4286). In Finland, data from the Evergreen study was used. Eight hundred and four women from the city of Jyväskylä were interviewed at home. Socio-economic position was measured according to social class in childhood, education, use of a car, home ownership and previous occupation. Disability measures included questions on difficulties in washing/dressing and climbing stairs. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between disability and socio-economic position. In the age-adjusted analysis of both samples increasing disability in washing/dressing and climbing stairs was associated with at least one of the measures of deprivation. The relationship between socio-economic position and disability was more distinct in the British than Finnish women. Despite adjustment for a range of confounders, the relationship between socio-economic position and disability was not much attenuated, particularly in the British women. The associations in the measures of socio-economic position and disability showed a slightly different pattern between the British and Finnish women.
The aim of the present study was to follow-up the condition of the teeth over a sufficiently long period.
Dental examinations were a part of a multidisciplinary 10-year cohort study on the elderly. These examinations were made in 1990 (n = 226), 1995 (n = 90) and 2000 (n = 65) for the entire population born in 1910 and living in Jyväskylä, Finland. The subjects were divided into two categories, dentate (one tooth or more) and edentulous.
The results showed that men had more intact teeth and lower DMF scores than women, but the differences diminished during the follow-up period. The number of remaining and filled teeth of those women who took part in all three phases of the present study was higher than that of those who died during the follow-up. In men the DMF scores showed the opposite trend. The most significant deterioration during the 10-year follow-up was found in the number of teeth and DMF scores in men and in the number of remaining and filled teeth in women.
Among men, in particular, significant changes in oral health status could be seen even between 80 and 90 years of age. Hence, regardless of advanced age, a subject should be motivated by the oral health care team to seek regular dental treatment.
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.
The growing size of the older population challenges not only researchers but also higher education in gerontology. On the basis of an online survey the authors describe the situation of Nordic higher education in gerontology in 2008 and 2009 and also give some good examples of Nordic- and European-level collaboration. The survey results showed that gerontological education was given in every Nordic country, in 31 universities and 60 other higher education institutions. Although separate aging-related courses and modules were relatively numerous, programs for majors were relatively few. Networking in the Nordic region offers a good example on how to further develop higher education in gerontology. Emphasis should be put on strengthening networking on the European and trans-Atlantic levels.
The relative contribution of different domains on walking speed is largely unknown. This study investigated the central factors associated with maximal walking speed among older people.
Cross-sectional analyses of baseline data from the SCAMOB study (ISRCTN 07330512) involving 605 community-living ambulatory adults aged 75-81 years. Maximal walking speed, leg extensor power, standing balance and body mass index were measured at the research center. Physical activity, smoking, use of alcohol, chronic diseases and depressive symptoms were self-reported by standard questionnaires.
The mean maximal walking speed was 1.4 m/s (range 0.3-2.9). In linear regression analysis, age, gender and body mass index explained 11% of the variation in maximal walking speed. Adding leg extensor power and standing balance into the model increased the variation explained to 38%. Further adjusting for physical activity, smoking status and use of alcohol increased the variation explained by an additional 7%. A minor further increase in variability explained was gained by adding chronic diseases and depressive symptoms to the model. In the final model, the single most important factors associated with walking speed were leg extensor power, standing balance and physical activity, and these associations were similar in men and women and in different body mass index categories.
Lower extremity impairment and physical inactivity were the central factors associated with slow walking speed among older people, probably because these factors capture the influences of health changes and other life-style factors, potentially leading to walking limitations.
To study which individual characteristics and environmental factors correlate with fear of moving outdoors and whether fear of moving outdoors predicts development of mobility limitation.
Observational prospective cohort study and cross-sectional analyses.
Community and research center.
Seven hundred twenty-seven community-living people aged 75 to 81 were interviewed at baseline, of whom 314 took part in a 3.5-year follow-up.
Fear of moving outdoors and its potential individual and environmental correlates were assessed at baseline. Perceived difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km were assessed twice a year over a 3.5-year period.
At baseline, 65% of the women and 29% of the men reported fear of moving outdoors. Poor socioeconomic status; musculoskeletal diseases; slow walking speed; and the presence of poor street conditions, hills in the nearby environment, and noisy traffic correlated with fear of moving outdoors. At the first 6-month follow-up, participants with fear of moving outdoors had more than four times the adjusted risk (odds ratio (OR)=4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.92-11.00) of developing difficulties in walking 0.5 km and a three times greater adjusted risk (OR=3.10, 95% CI=1.49-6.46) for developing difficulty in walking 2 km compared with those without fear. The difference in the prevalence of walking difficulties remained statistically significant over the 3.5-year follow-up (P=.02 and P=.009, respectively).
Fear of moving outdoors is common in older adults and increases the risk of developing self-reported difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km. Knowledge about individual and environmental factors underlying fear of moving outdoors and finding ways to alleviate fear of moving outdoors are important for community planning and prevention of disability.
To examine the genetic and environmental sources of variation in self-rated health (SRH) in older female twins and to explore the roles of morbidity, functional limitation, and psychological well-being as mediators of genetic and environmental effects on SRH.
Cross-sectional analysis of twin data.
One hundred two monozygotic and 115 dizygotic female twin pairs aged 63 to 76.
SRH was categorized as good, average, or poor. Morbidity was described using a physician-assessed disease-severity scale together with information about the presence of diabetes mellitus and cancer. Maximal walking speed measured over 10 m was used to assess physical functional limitation; the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale were used to characterize psychological well-being. The contributions of genetic and environmental (defined as familial (shared by siblings) or nonshared (unique to each sibling)) effects were assessed using univariate and multivariate structural equation modeling of twin data.
SRH did not have its own specific genetic effect but shared a genetic component in common with the genetic components underlying liability to disease severity, maximal walking speed, and depressive symptoms. It accounted for 64% of the variation in SRH, with environmental effects accounting for the remaining variation.
The current results suggest that there are no specific genetic effects on SRH but rather that genetic influences on SRH are mediated through genetic influences affecting chronic diseases, functional limitation, and mood.
The aim of this study was to compare auditory functions and to analyse the prevalence of hearing impairment and the relationship of self-reported hearing disability with audiometric test results among 75-year-old people in three Nordic localities. The representative samples came from Glostrup, Denmark (n = 571), Göteborg, Sweden (n =450), and Jyväskylä, Finland (n =388). The median pure-tone thresholds were rather similar in all three populations. The prevalence of moderate hearing impairment varied between 26% and 34% in men, and between 17% and 23% in women. The corresponding figures in the prevalence of self-reported hearing difficulties were 41%-57%, and 28%-37%. The self-reported difficulties were broadly in accordance with the audiometric test results, but there also were individuals with conflicting results. It is concluded that the prevalence of hearing impairment in the three Nordic localities is fairly similar. To assess hearing disorders in elderly people, both audiometry and self-report data are needed.