Applied Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine

Health Concerns of the Oldest Old: A Pilot Study

Published on: 2017-11-17


The fastest growing age group in America is adults aged 85 years and over. The number of adults in this age group is expected to continue to increase from 5.1 million (in 2012) to 14.1 million in 2040. This nearly triples the number of older Americans in the 85+ age group over the next couple of decades (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2013) . This oldest old group has reported some positive changes in patterns of aging compared to past decades. A study was conducted to explore the current health concerns of the oldest old group. A convenience sample of 12 volunteers in Northwest Indiana, ages 85–99, with an average age of 89.4, was interviewed. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes and patterns using qualitative techniques. Major themes of positive aging that emerged included: staying active and engaged, staying healthy, and addressing fears. Findings were consistent with existing research that suggests that very old adults with positive health perceptions demonstrate inner strength, resilience, a distinctive lifestyle, stable social support, and a positive mental outlook. The purpose of this paper is to present the health concerns and perceptions of an oldest-old group. The findings from this study will also be compared with those from various international studies on perceptions of health among the oldest old.


Oldest-Old; Aging Process; Health Perceptions; Health Concerns