Healthy life years in old age: Swedish development 1980-2010 according to different health indicators

Publication Abstract

Lagergren M, Johnell K, Schon P, and Danielson M. 2016. Healthy life years in old age: Swedish development 1980-2010 according to different health indicators. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 44(39):55-61.

Aims: To investigate the development of healthy life expectancy from 65 years (HLE65) in Sweden in the period 1980 and 2010 by using two different health indicators: self-rated health and the global activity limitation indicator (GALI). Methods: Sources of data for the HLE computations were Swedish national mortality statistics and the nationwide Swedish Survey of Living Conditions (SSLC), which have been conducted biennially by Statistics Sweden since 1974. We used the Sullivan method for calculations of HLE. A decomposition into mortality and disability effect has been made in accordance with the method devised by Nusselder. Results: Life expectancy at age 65 (LE65) increased by 3.1 years for women and 4.0 years for men from 1980/85 to 2006/11. Regardless of which health measure investigated - self-rated health or GALI - HLE65 increased between the periods 1980/85 to 2006/2011 more rapidly than LE65 and as a consequence the years with bad self-rated health and years with activity limitations decreased. These increases as well as the decreases were significant (p<0.05). Conclusions: The Swedish LE65 and HLE65 development, as judged by the SSLC study, are compatible with the postponement hypothesis and there is even a clear tendency for compression. Thus, the years with bad self-rated health and years with activity limitations are postponed to a higher age and the number of those years have decreased. From this respect, the Swedish development looks positive. The need of old age care in 2010 would have been much higher if it had been expansion - not postponement - of bad self-rated health and years with activity limitations during the time period.

DOI: 10.1177/1403494815605195