[Life expectancy with functional disability in elderly persons in São Paulo, Brazil]

Mirela Castro Santos Camargos, Ignez Helena Oliva Perpétuo, Carla Jorge Machado
Pan American Journal of Public Health 2005, 17 (5): 379-86

OBJECTIVE: For persons 60 years of age or older living in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, in the year 2000 to estimate four characteristics: (1) life expectancy free of functional disability, (2) life expectancy with functional disability, (3) life expectancy with functional disability but without dependence, and (4) life expectancy with functional disability and dependence.

METHODS: The estimates of the four characteristics were calculated by means of a life table constructed based on the method proposed by Sullivan. The basic data used for the calculations were the elderly population estimated for the city of São Paulo as of mid-2000, obtained from the demographic censuses of 1991 and 2000, and deaths in the elderly population, obtained from the State Data Analysis System Foundation (Fundação Sistema Estadual de Análise de Dados, or SEADE) of the state of São Paulo. The prevalences of functional disability and of functional dependence were calculated based on data concerning activities of daily living collected in the city of São Paulo as part of a project called Health, Well-being, and Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean (the "SABE project"). The activities of daily living considered were: dressing, eating, bathing, using the bathroom, lying down on the bed and getting up from it, and walking across a room. Functional disability was defined as difficulty in performing one or more of the activities of daily living. Dependence was defined as the need for help in performing at least one of the activities of daily living.

RESULTS: In 2000, 60-year-old men from the city of São Paulo could expect to live, on average, 17.6 years, of which 14.6 years (83%) would be free of functional disability. Women of the same age could expect to live 22.2 years, of which 16.4 years (74%) would be free of functional disability. Men would have a functional disability and be dependent on others for 1.6 years (9%), while the comparable period for women would be 2.5 years (11%).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite their longer life expectancy, the women faced more years with functional disability. The number of years with functional disability and dependence was also higher for the women. Public policies should take into account the differing needs of elderly women and of elderly men as well as other specific characteristics of this older population.

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