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At What Age Do You Feel 65?

A recently published study attempted to compare countries to determine at what age does the average person feel like they are 65 years old - that is, at what age do they experience the typical health problems of a 65 year old (age-related diseases). We all generally want to live a healthy long life. But the reality is that most people will develop 1 or more health-related conditions or diseases as they age, with perhaps both physical and mental deterioration. The researchers looked at both among world countries - chronological age and the onset of age-related diseases and conditions (out of 92 conditions). As expected, when people have the health problems of an "average 65 year old" varies tremendously between countries.

The US didn't do so well: "At 68.5 years, the United States ranked 54th, between Iran (69.0 years) and Antigua and Barbuda (68.4 years)." Japan did the best - there 76 year olds have the same level of health problems as an "average" 65 year old. These findings match earlier research looking at worldwide populations, which found that no matter how long a person lives - about 1/8 of their life will be spent unhealthy or disabled, typically in the decade before death.

From Science Daily:  Wide variations in how well or poorly people age

A new study reveals wide variations in how well or poorly people age. A 30-year gap separates countries with the highest and lowest ages at which people experience the health problems of a 65-year-old, according to a new scientific study. Researchers found 76-year-olds in Japan and 46-year-olds in Papua New Guinea have the same level of age-related health problems as an 'average' person aged 65.  

These negative effects include impaired functions and loss of physical, mental, and cognitive abilities resulting from the 92 conditions analyzed, five of which are communicable and 81 non-communicable, along with six injuries. The studies and additional information are available at http://www.healthdata.org.  

The study, published yesterday in the international medical journal The Lancet Public Health, is the first of its kind, according to Chang, whose center is housed at the UW's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Where traditional metrics of aging examine increased longevity, this study explores both chronological age and the pace at which aging contributes to health deterioration. The study uses estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD).

Researchers measured "age-related disease burden" by aggregating all disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), a measurement of loss of healthy life, related to the 92 diseases. The findings cover 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries and territories. For example, in 2017, people in Papua New Guinea had the world's highest rate of age-related health problems with more than 500 DALYs per 1,000 adults, four times that of people in Switzerland with just over 100 DALYs per 1,000 adults.

The rate in the United States was 161.5 DALYs per 1,000, giving it a ranking of 53rd, between Algeria at 52nd with 161.0 DALYs per 1,000 and Iran at 54th with 164.8 DALYs per 1,000.

Using global average 65-year-olds as a reference group, Chang and other researchers also estimated the ages at which the population in each country experienced the same related burden rate. They found wide variation in how well or poorly people age. Ranked first, Japanese 76-year-olds experience the same aging burden as 46-year-olds in Papua New Guinea, which ranked last across 195 countries and territories. At 68.5 years, the United States ranked 54th, between Iran (69.0 years) and Antigua and Barbuda (68.4 years).

Additional findings include:

  • Age-related disease burden rates decreased over time across all regions between 1990 and 2017, representing reductions in deaths and disease severity of age-related problems.
  • In 2017, people in 108 countries experienced earlier accumulation of problems associated with aging, whereas those in 87 countries experienced slower onset of aging.
  • Globally, the age-related diseases with the most deaths and DALYs were ischemic heart disease, brain hemorrhage, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Countries with highest equivalent age to global 65-year-olds in 2017: 1) Japan: 76.1 years, 2) Switzerland: 76.1, 3) France: 76.0, 4) Singapore: 76.0, 5) Kuwait: 75.3, 6)South Korea: 75.1, 7) Spain: 75.1, 8) Italy: 74.8, 9) Puerto Rico: 74.6, 10) Peru: 74.3

Countries with lowest equivalent age to global 65-year-olds in 2017: 1) Papua New Guinea: 45.6 years, 2) Marshall Islands: 51.0, 3) Afghanistan: 51.6, 4) Vanuatu: 52.2, 5) Solomon Islands: 53.4, 6) Central African Republic: 53.6, 7) Lesotho: 53.6, 8) Kiribati: 54.2, 9) Guinea-Bissau: 54.5, 10) Federated States of Micronesia: 55.0

Countries with lowest age-related burden rate in 2017: 1) Switzerland: 104.9 DALYs per 1,000 adults aged 25 or older, 2) Singapore: 108.3, 3) South Korea: 110.1 4) Japan: 110.6, 5) Italy: 115.2, 6) Kuwait: 118.2, 7) Spain: 119.2, 8) France: 119.3, 9) Israel: 120.2, 10) Sweden: 122.1

Countries with highest age-related burden rate in 2017: 1) Papua New Guinea: 506.6 DALYs per 1,000 adults aged 25 or older, 2) Marshall Islands: 396.6, 3)Vanuatu: 392.1, 4) Afghanistan: 380.2, 5) Solomon Islands: 368.0, 6) Central African Republic: 364.6, 7) Lesotho: 360.5, 8) Kiribati: 347.5, 9) Guinea-Bissau: 343.4, 10) Eritrea: 325.7.

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