BACKGROUND: Monitoring of trends in functioning of older adults provides indispensable information for health care policy. This study examined trends in multiple indicators of functioning among Dutch older adults across a period of 20 years.
METHODS: Data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam were used. We included 10 870 observations of 3803 respondents aged 64-84 years across seven waves (1992-12) and 931 observations of 603 respondents aged 85-94 years across four waves (2001-12). At each wave, 8 indicators of functioning were measured: multimorbidity, severe functional limitations, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, physical inactivity, loneliness and social isolation. In addition, a sum score (range: 0-8) of these indicators was calculated, with a score of ≥5 indicating 'multiple problems.' Trends in functioning over time were assessed using Generalized Estimating Equation analyses.
RESULTS: In the 64-84-years-olds, the prevalence of multimorbidity increased over time [OR(year) = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.05-1.06], whereas the prevalence of the other indicators decreased [i.e. cognitive impairment, physical inactivity (in women) and loneliness (in women)] or remained stable [i.e. severe functional limitations, depression, anxiety, physical inactivity (in men), loneliness (in men) and social isolation]. In the 85-94-year-olds, the prevalence of severe functional limitations increased over time [OR(year) = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.02-1.13], whereas the prevalence of the other indicators remained stable. In both age groups, the prevalence of 'multiple problems' remained stable.
CONCLUSION: Unfavorable trends were observed in multimorbidity among 64-84-years-olds and in severe functional limitations among 85-94-year-olds. Favorable trends were found in cognitive impairment, physical inactivity (in women) and loneliness (in women) among 64-84-years-olds.