Accelerated dysfunction among the very oldest-old in nursing homes

Brant E. Fries, John N. Morris, Kimberly A. Skarupski, Caroline S. Blaum, Andrzej Galecki, Fred Bookstein, Miel Ribbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background. The population aged 65 and older is often analyzed in three categories: young-old (65-74), middle-old (75-84), and oldest-old (£85). This may blind heterogeneity within the oldest category. New, large data sets allow examination of the very oldest-old (e.g., aged a95) and contrasts with those who are younger. Methods. We determined the annual change of prevalence of physical and cognitive function, and of disease problems in the old to very oldest-old, using data from existing Resident Assessment Instrument records from nursing homes in seven states during 1992-1994. We used data from 193,467 unique residents aged 80 or older, including 6,556 residents aged 100 or older. We computed the prevalence, by age, of selected conditions: physical and cognitive function, diseases, problem behavior, mood disturbance, restraint use, falls, weight loss, eating less, body mass index, chewing and swallowing problems, incontinence (bowel and bladder), catheter use, and selected diagnoses. Results. Prevalence of all measures of physical and cognitive dysfunction increased most rapidly with each year of age among the very oldest-old. Most of the slope changes occurred from 95 to 100 years of age. Such changes are less pronounced or not seen in measures of disease prevalence. Conclusions. Accelerated change in prevalence of dysfunction seen in the nursing home population may suggest a change in the mechanisms of aging that occur after the mid-nineties. Examination of the very oldest-old may provide new insight into the nature of the aging process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)M336-M341
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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