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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Nov 10;73(12):1701-1707. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gly010.

Disability Prior to Death Among the Oldest-Old in China.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Unit of Epidemiology, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Contemporary Anthropology, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.

Erratum in



To estimate the prevalence of disability during the last 3 years prior to death among the oldest-old (≥80 years) in China.


We used data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS), a nationally representative study of the oldest-old in China. The analytic sample included 23,934 decedents who died between 1998 and 2014 and had at least one interview within the last 3 years of life. Disability was defined as being incontinent or needing assistance in performing one or more of five other essential activities (bathing, transferring, dressing, eating, and toileting).


About 57.8% (weighted) of the study decedents were female. The prevalence of disability increased modestly from 36 months to 24 months prior to death (20% to 23%), more rapidly from 24-months to 12-months before death (23% to 31%), and substantially from 12 months before death to the last month of life (31% to 48%). The disability rates were lowest for participants who died between 80 and 89 years, intermediate for those who died between 90 and 99 years, and highest for those who died at age 100 or older, although the patterns over the 3-year period were comparable for the three age groups. At each time point prior to death, a higher percentage of women was disabled than men.


In this large nationally representative sample of the oldest-old in China, the prevalence of disability during the 3 years prior to death is high and is greater in women than men and those who die at the oldest ages.

[Available on 2019-11-10]

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