Challenges of Ageing in Portugal: Data from the EpiDoC Cohort

Ana Maria Rodrigues, Maria João Gregório, Rute Dinis Sousa, Sara S Dias, Maria José Santos, Jorge M Mendes, Pedro Simões Coelho, Jaime C Branco, Helena Canhão

Abstract


Introduction: Portuguese adults have a long lifespan, but it is unclear whether they live a healthy life in their final years. We aimed to determine the prevalence of multimorbidity and characterize lifestyle and other health outcomes among older Portuguese adults.
Material and Methods: We performed a cross-sectional evaluation of 2393 adults, aged 65 and older, during the second wave of follow-up of the EpiDoC cohort, a population-based study involving long-term follow-up of a representative sample of the Portuguese population. Subjects completed a structured questionnaire during a telephone interview. Socioeconomic, demographic, lifestyle behaviours, chronic diseases, and health resources consumption were assessed. Cluster analysis was done to identify dietary patterns. Descriptive and analytic analysis was performed to estimate multimorbidity prevalence and its associated factors.
Results: Multimorbidity prevalence among older adults was 78.3%, increased with age strata (72.8% for 65 – 69 years to 83.4% for ≥ 80 years), and was highest in Azores (84.9%) and Alentejo (83.6%). The most common chronic diseases were hypertension (57.3%), rheumatic disease (51.9%), hypercholesterolemia (49.4%), and diabetes (22.7%). Depression symptoms were frequent (11.8%) and highest in the oldest strata. The mean health-related quality of life (EQ-5D-3L) score was 0.59 ± 0.38. Hospitalization in the previous 12 months was reported by 25.8% of individuals. Overall, 66.6% of older adults were physically inactive. ‘Fruit and vegetables dietary pattern’ was followed by 85.4% of individuals; however, regional inequalities were found (69% in Azores). Obesity prevalence was 22.3% overall and was highest among Azoreans (33%).
Conclusion: The high prevalence of multimorbidity, combined with unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, suggests that the elderly population
constitutes a vulnerable group warranting dedicated intervention.


Keywords


Aging; Comorbidity; Delivery of Health Care; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Portugal; Quality of Life

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