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Age Ageing. 2001 Jan;30(1):53-62.

Health and ill-health in the older population in England and Wales. The Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS).

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Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Institute of Public Health, UK.



to provide a profile of disorders and disabilities in the older population.


the MRC CFAS drew population samples of people aged 64 years and over from Family Health Service Authority lists at five sites and asked participants about sociodemographic variables, physical and cognitive health and activities of daily living, We calculated the prevalence of co-morbidity from the number of different types of complaint or disability (physical, functional and cognitive), and calculated healthy life expectancies in each of these co-morbid states.


three urban (Newcastle, Nottingham and Oxford) and two rural sites (Cambridgeshire and Gwynedd).


the prevalence of morbidity is low at the youngest ages, as is co-morbidity. Women have consistently greater morbidity than men. Morbidity increases sharply with age, with a more dramatic rise in women. Life expectancy without any morbidity is short at all ages over 64, with the number of years expected with two or more areas affected virtually constant up to 90 years. As a proportion of remaining life expectancy, the period of time spent with two or more areas affected rises by the age of 90 to 30% in men and 60% in women.


preventive programmes for the older population should take into account the large differences between the young old, the middle old and the old old. Our study provides a baseline against which to compare future changes in health in older populations, as well as benchmark expectancies for the UK population.

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