Generally, health does not improve with age, and many physical and physiological functions are known to decline. These changes do not occur uniformly, however; for many reasons, some people experience significant improvement in their health over non-trivial time intervals. Earlier, we showed that 5-year transitions in health status in elderly people (age 65+ years) can be modeled as a stochastic process, using a modified Poisson distribution with four readily interpretable parameters. The original description was based on follow-up of a single cross-sectional study, thus mixing age and cohort effects. Here, we again used a multistate Markov chain to model 5-year deficit accumulation in relation to frailty in both a Swedish birth cohort (aged 70 years at inception) and, from the original cross-sectional study, a Canadian birth cohort, aged 69-71. In both datasets, we found again that a modified Poisson describes the transition in health status with high precision. The parameters of the model though different, are close to each other, even though the cohorts are from different countries, were assembled 20 years apart, and counted different deficits. The model suggests that all health transitions, including health improvement, worsening, and death, can be summarized in a unified stochastic model with a few interpretable parameters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology