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The oldest old in England and Wales: A descriptive analysis based on the MRC cognitive function and ageing study

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Carol Jagger, Professor John Bond, Professor Carol Brayne



Objective: to describe the characteristics and survival of the oldest old in England and Wales. Design: retrospective analysis of the oldest old from a population-based cohort study. Setting: population-based study in England and Wales: two rural and three urban sites. Methods: two types of analyses were conducted: (i) a descriptive analysis of those individuals who were aged 90 years or more, and 100 years or more, and (ii) a survival analysis of those who reached their 90th, 95th, or 100th birthday during the study. Median survival time was calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Effects of socio-demographic characteristics on survival were evaluated using the Cox proportional-hazards regression model. Results: in total, 958 individuals aged 90 years or more, and 24 individuals aged 100 years or more, had been interviewed at least once during the study. Twenty-seven per cent were living in residential or nursing homes. Women aged 90 years or more were more likely to be living in residential and nursing homes, be widowed, have any disability or have lower MMSE scores. The centenarians were mostly cognitively and functionally impaired. The median survival times for those reaching their 90th (n = 2, 336), 95th (n = 638), or 100th birthday (n = 92) during the study were 3.7 years (95% CI: 3.5-4.0), 2.3 (2.1-2.6) and 2.1 (1.7-2.6) years for women, and 2.9 (95% CI: 2.6-3.1), 2.0 (1.2-3.1) and 2.2 (0.5-2.3) for men, respectively. Those living in residential and nursing homes had a shorter survival when aged 90 years, with similar non-significant effects for those aged 95 and 100 years. After the age of 100 years, the high mortality rate and small sample size limited the ability to detect any differences between the different groups. Conclusion: even at the very oldest ages, the majority live in non-institutionalised settings. Among the oldest old, women were frailer than men. Being male and living in residential nursing homes shortened survival in those aged 90 years or more. Copyright © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xie J, Matthews F, Jagger C, Bond J, Brayne C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Age and Ageing

Year: 2008

Volume: 37

Issue: 4

Pages: 396-402

ISSN (print): 0002-0729

ISSN (electronic): 1468-2834

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afn061

PubMed id: 18424470


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Funder referenceFunder name
Department of Health
G40077Medical Research Council
G9901400Medical Research Council
MC_U105292687Medical Research Council
U.1052.00.0400Medical Research Council