Centenarians develop chronic diseases later than non-centenarians

Health trajectories in Swedish 100-year-olds
Even though the number and proportion of oldest-old are increasing, there are only a few studies exploring centenarians’ health trajectories. Two NEAR-based studies: the Kungsholmen Project (KP) and the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (SNAC-K) were used to compare 100-year-olds’ health trajectories with their younger counterparts, before turning 100.


Image by wahhomestudio at Freepik


100-year-olds have fewer chronic diseases than their younger counterparts
There were fewer chronic diseases among persons who survived their 100th birthday than among persons under 100 years old. Interestingly, in centenarians, multimorbidity (the presence of multiple chronic diseases), disability, and cognitive impairment emerged 4 to 9 years later than in their younger peers. However, compared to non-centenarians, 100-year-olds spent overall more years of life with multimorbidity (9 versus 7 years), disability (4 versus 3 years), and cognitive impairment (6 versus 4 years). At age 100, 39% of the study participants were cognitively intact and 55% did not have any disability, while only 5% had no multimorbidity. In conclusion, 100-year-olds experience morbidity later than their shorter-lived counterparts but spend more years of life with diseases and functional impairments. Considering the increase in the older population, these findings might be helpful when planning future care for the oldest-old.


Davide Liborio Vetrano, first author of the study. Photo: Federico Triolo


Vetrano DL, Grande G, Marengoni A, Calderón-Larrañaga A, Rizzuto D. Health Trajectories in Swedish Centenarians. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2021; 76(1): 157-163. https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glaa152.