Health status of the Successful Aged: The Medical Profile of a Functional, Very Old Group

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Southern Medical Journal


Geriatric assessment, body mass index, skinfold thickness, thyrotropin / blood


By studying a group of very elderly but generally functional people, we have compiled a medical profile that helps describe health-related characteristics of effective aging. We obtained functional, nutritional, and biochemical information regarding 61 men and women (mean age 86.8 years) attending a veterans' convention. Twenty-three out of 60 (38%) reported a fall in the previous year, with those who were less physically active falling more than the most active. Many of the men were thin or had lost weight, but at most 3 of the 25 male subjects were clinically malnourished. Many of the women were heavy but were otherwise healthy. Of the 36 women, 6 (17%) had an elevated level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Five of 58 (9%) had low vitamin B12 levels. Even in the older old who seem to be aging well, falling is relatively common, and screening for certain laboratory abnormalities has a reasonably high yield.