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J Community Health. 2014 Aug;39(4):747-52. doi: 10.1007/s10900-014-9821-2.

The aging profile of the Portuguese population: a principal component analysis.

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Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Social, Faculdade de Medicina da, Universidade de Coimbra, Rua Larga, 3004-504, Coimbra, Portugal,


In the last 5 years the resident population of Portugal has increased 2.3%, along with a progressive ageing. This study aims assessing the social dependence and frailty, as well as social and familial support needs of the elderly. In an observational, cross-sectional community based study (EPEPP study), a total of 2,672 people, aged 55 or more, were submitted to an enquiry and several variables were studied among three age groups: 55-64 years old (37%), 65-74 years old (37%) and ≥ 75 years old (26%), encompassing a total of 57% women and 43% men. A questionnaire including items such as physical autonomy, locomotion, falls, health/medical complaints, instrumental autonomy, physical activity, health self-evaluation and emotional status was applied. The strong correlations among the studied scores allowed the identification of people groups with common characteristics when a principal component analysis was used: "autonomy" (scores of instrumental autonomy, locomotion and physical autonomy) and "perception of health and emotional status" (scores of health self-evaluation and emotional status), were present in the three age groups. The component analysis evidences that a good autonomy, a good perception of health and emotional status are determinant to a good quality of life in elderly. Although health status and self-rated health have a propensity to deteriorate with aging, older Portuguese consider their state of health satisfactory and tend to underestimate their decline. In what concerns the analysis of gender with the same age and in contrast to what has been reported, older women alike to men, experience a good mobility and health self-evaluation.

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