Applied Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine

Health Concerns of the Oldest Old: A Pilot Study

*Kristen L. Mauk
Department Of Nursing And Health Sciences, Colorado Christian University, United States

*Corresponding Author:
Kristen L. Mauk
Department Of Nursing And Health Sciences, Colorado Christian University, United States
Email:kmauk@ccu.edu

Published on: 2017-11-17

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

Introduction

Although adults over age 85 are a quickly growing group, relatively little is known about the health concerns of the oldest old living in the community. 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.