Send to

Choose Destination
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2007 Apr;62(4):408-14.

The burden of diseases on disability-free life expectancy in later life.

Author information

Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom.



The consequences of diseases in later life have been judged predominantly through mortality, resulting in an emphasis on the fatal rather than the nonfatal disabling conditions. We use a longitudinal study with follow-up at 2, 6, and 10 years to assess the impact of different diseases on both total life expectancy (TLE) and disability-free life expectancy (DFLE).


The Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study investigators interviewed 13,004 people aged 65 years and older from five U.K. centers starting in 1991. Persons aged 75 years and older were oversampled. Disability (mild, moderate, and severe) was assessed through basic Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental ADL (IADL) scales at baseline and at follow-ups at 2, 6, and 10 years. TLE and DFLE were compared for persons with and without each of nine conditions.


At age 65, men had a TLE of 15.3 years of which 12.1 (79%) were free of any disability, whereas women of the same age had an average TLE of 19.4 years, 11.0 years (57%) disability-free. Men (women) aged 65 years without stroke had 4.8 (4.6) more years of TLE and 6.5 (5.8) more years DFLE. Without diabetes, men (women) lived 4.4 (5.6) years longer and had 4.1 (5.1) years disability-free.


More disability-free years were gained than total life years in persons free of stroke, cognitive impairment, arthritis, and/or visual impairment at baseline. This finding suggests that elimination of these conditions would result in a compression of disability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center