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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2019 Feb 7. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbz018. [Epub ahead of print]

Life Course Socioeconomic Conditions and Frailty at Older Ages.

Author information

1
Swiss NCCR "LIVES - Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives", University of Geneva, Switzerland.
2
Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Gerontology and Vulnerability, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
3
Unit of Population Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, Primary Care and Emergency Medicine, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland.
4
Department of Epidemiology, Emory University, Atlanta GA, United States of America.
5
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland.
6
Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
7
ZHAW, Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
8
NOVA - Norwegian Social Research, Center for Welfare and Labor Research, Oslo, Norway.
9
International Centre for Life Course Studies in Society and Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, United Kingdom.
10
Department of General Internal Medicine, Rehabilitation and Geriatrics, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Abstract

Objectives:

This paper aimed to assess associations of childhood socioeconomic conditions (CSC) with the risk of frailty in old age and whether adulthood socioeconomic conditions (ASC) influence this association.

Methods:

Data from 21 185 individuals aged 50 years and older included in the longitudinal Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe were used. Frailty was operationalized as a sum of presenting weakness, shrinking, exhaustion, slowness, or low activity. Confounder-adjusted multilevel logistic regression models were used to analyze associations of CSC and ASC with frailty.

Results:

While disadvantaged CSC was associated with higher odds of (pre-)frailty in women and men (OR=1.73, 95%CI 1.34, 2.24; OR=1.84, 95%CI 1.27, 2.66, respectively), this association was mediated by ASC. Personal factors and demographics, such as birth cohort, chronic conditions and difficulties with activities of daily living, increased the odds of being (pre-)frail.

Discussion:

Findings suggest that CSC are associated with frailty at old age. However, when taking into account ASC, this association no longer persists. The results show the importance of improving socioeconomic conditions over the whole life course in order to reduce health inequalities in old age.

PMID:
30753721
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gbz018

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