The role of parents’ age at death in the perception of health among the oldest-old

Dorly J. H. Deeg, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine
Marja Jylha, University of Tampere

This study examines whether the oldest-old compare their health to that of their parents, and particularly, whether their parents’ age at death (PAD) plays a role. Persons aged 90 and over were selected from representative surveys in two countries: the Vitality 90+ study in Tampere, Finland (2003, n=147), and the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam in the Netherlands (1999-2002, n=84). Self-rated health and PAD were obtained from self-reports. In Finland and the Netherlands, 17% and 11%, respectively, of longest-living parents (LLP) had reached the current age of the respondents (90+). In bivariate regression analyses, those whose LLP died at age 90 or older reported better health than those whose LLP died earlier (betaDutch=-0.23, betaFinnish=-0.16, both p<0.05). Accounting for functional limitations and chronic diseases attenuated the association by 26-35%. It is concluded that the age at death of the longest living parent plays a role in self-perceptions of health among the oldest-old.

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Presented in Session 55: Biodemographic aspects of mortality analysis