Health Maintenance in Very Old Age : Medical Conditions, Functional Outcome and Nutritional Status

Sammanfattning: The overall aim of this thesis was to provide better understanding of the underlying factors related to health maintenance in very old people, with a focus on medical conditions, functional outcome and nutritional status. Data were gathered from the ELSA 85 project (Elderly in Linköping Screening Assessment). The ELSA 85 project was started in 2007 with a population-based survey of 85-year-old individuals (n = 650) residing in Linköping municipality, Sweden. During the study period from 2007 to 2010, we conducted surveys by postal questionnaire, home visits, geriatric clinic visits, and reviews of electronic medical records as well as the database of health service consumption. A series of cross-sectional analyses were performed on multimorbidity, health service consumption, activities of daily living (ADLs), physical functioning and nutritional status.Of 650 eligible individuals, 496 (78% of those alive) completed the questionnaire (Paper I). Despite the prevalence of multimorbidity (68%) and frequent use of assistive technology for mobility (40%), the majority managed self-care (85%), usual activities (74%) and had high self-rated health (>60/100, visual analogue scale). Factors associated with in-patient care were an increased number of general practitioner visits, more use of assistive technology, community assistance, multimorbidity (≥2 chronic diseases) and/or heart failure and arrhythmia.Cluster analyses (n = 496, Paper II) revealed five clusters: vascular, cardiopulmonary, cardiac (only for men), somatic–mental (only for men), mental disease (only for women), and three other clusters related to ageing (one for men and two for women). Heart failure in men (odds ratio [OR], 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1–5.7) and women (OR, 3; 95% CI, 1.3–6.9) as a single morbidity explained more variance than morbidity clusters in models of emergency room visits. Men’s cardiac cluster (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1–2.7) and women’s cardiopulmonary cluster (OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2–2.4) were significantly associated with hospitalization. The combination of the cardiopulmonary cluster with the men’s cardiac cluster (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1–2.4) and one of the women’s ageing clusters (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3–0.8) showed interaction effects on hospitalization.In Paper III, overweight (body mass index [BMI], 25–29.9 kg/m2) and obese (BMI, ≥30 kg/m2) individuals (n = 333) perceived more difficulty performing instrumental ADL (IADL) and had more comorbidities than their normal weight counterparts (BMI, 18.5–24.9 kg/m2). After controlling for socio-demographic factors, obese but not overweight individuals were more likely to perceive increased difficulty in performing outdoor activities (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1–4) and cleaning (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.2–4.2) than their normal weight counterparts. Although obesity was also associated with multimorbidity (OR, 3; 95% CI, 1.2–8), the health service cost of each case of multimorbidity (n = 251) was highest in individuals of normal weight and nearly three times as much as in obese individuals (ratio, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.1–8.1).In Paper IV, 88-year-old obese women (n = 83) had greater absolute waist circumference, fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM), and lower handgrip strength (HS) corrected for FFM and HS-based ratios (HS/weight (Wt), HS/BMI, HS/FFM and HS/FM) than their normal weight and overweight counterparts. After adjusting for physical activity levels and the number of chronic diseases, the HS-based ratios explained more variance in physical functioning in Short Form-36 (R2, 0.52–0.54) than other single anthropometric or body composition parameters (R2, 0.45–0.51). Waist circumference, HS, and two HS-based ratios (HS/Wt and HS/FFM) were also associated with the number of IADL with no difficulty.In conclusion, the ELSA 85 population showed a fairly positive image of healthy perception, good functional ability as well as low use of health care among the majority of participants. Patterns of cardiac and pulmonary conditions were better associated than any single morbidity with hospitalization. Heart failure as a single morbidity was better associated than multimorbidity patterns with emergency room visits. For 85-year-olds, being obese, as opposed to overweight, was associated with self-reported activity limitations and comorbidities. Overweight elderly living in their own homes in this population had similar well-being to those of normal weight. In the cohort of 88-year-olds, obese women had high waist circumference, but their HS was relatively low in relation to their Wt and FFM. These parameters were better than BMI for predicting physical function and independent daily living.