TUESDAY, March 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Between 1991 and 2011, there were improvements in disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) for older people with a broad number of long-term conditions (LTCs), except for cognitive impairment, according to a study published online March 15 in PLOS Medicine.

Holly Q. Bennett, Ph.D., from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues estimated DFLE trends for older people with a broad number of health conditions from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies (CFAS I and II) aged 65 years or older in England. Baseline interviews were conducted in 1991 to 1993 (CFAS I) and 2008 to 2011 (CFAS II).

The researchers found that the only LTC whose prevalence decreased over time was cognitive impairment (odds ratio, 0.6), and the percentage of remaining years at age 65 years spent disability-free decreased for both men and women with cognitive impairment (difference CFAS II to CFAS I: −3.6 percent and −3.9 percent, respectively). DFLE improved or remained similar for men and women with any other LTC. Years with disability decreased for women with coronary heart disease (−0.8 years) and DFLE increased (+2.7 years), stemming from a reduction in the risk for incident disability (relative risk ratio, 0.6).

“We also found a decline in the percentage of remaining years spent disability-free for men and women with cognitive impairment,” the authors write. “Given that cognitive impairment was also the only LTC where prevalence decreased, this is a cause for concern and requires further investigation.”

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