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01.12.2008 | Original Investigation | Ausgabe 4/2008

European Journal of Ageing 4/2008

Functional ability in the elderly Swedish population from 1980 to 2005

European Journal of Ageing > Ausgabe 4/2008
Marti G. Parker, Pär Schön, Mårten Lagergren, Mats Thorslund


Statistics Sweden has interviewed representative samples of the population annually since 1980. This study looks at ages 65–84 (n ≈ 3,000 per year) and presents prevalence rates for functional ability (walking and running ability, vision and hearing, and disability) for different age groups and for men and women. Prevalence rates of functional problems increase with age, for all indicators and for men and women. With the exception of hearing, women have poorer function than men. Different function indicators showed different trends over time. For example, vision (reading text) improved over the studied time period, while hearing (a conversation between two or more people) showed a clear worsening over the time period. Seen over the entire time period 1980–2005, mobility items (running, walking) and disability indicators showed improvement. However, figures suggested that most of this improvement occurred during the 1980s and early 1990s. Regression analyses of the estimated trends up until 1996 show for the most part significant improvement, but this positive development seems to cease after 1996 and in some cases there seems to be a significant upswing in problems. On other hand, for hearing, the negative trend of increased problems seems to have been broken after 1996. Results emphasize the necessity to follow population trends over long periods of time with multiple waves and multiple indicators.

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