Some social factors can predict early death in older people

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In a study from Massachusetts General Hospital and elsewhere, scientists found certain social factors can predict early death in older people.

Social factors affect a person’s future health, but there’s currently no practical way to summarize their prognostic impact.

In the study, researchers recently took a comprehensive inventory of older adults’ social attributes and distilled it into a short survey that can predict longevity.

They analyzed information from 8,250 adults aged ≥65 years. Within four years of a baseline interview, 22% had died.

They found eight factors that predicted death within four years:

Poor neighborhood cleanliness, low perceived control over the financial situation, meeting with children less than yearly, not working for pay, not being active with children, not volunteering, feeling isolated, and being treated with less courtesy or respect.

The team says scientists often overemphasize the importance of medical conditions when thinking about longevity.

This research demonstrates that our social lives are as important as medical conditions.

The researchers are currently working to validate their findings through additional studies and to incorporate their survey—which they call the Social Frailty Index—in medical research.

They have also made the Social Frailty Index available online for others to use.

Clinicians can use the index to supplement commonly used prediction tools to help older adults engage in advanced care planning and weigh medical interventions.

However, they should avoid using the index to limit the care of higher-than-average-risk older adults because a patient is “socially frail.”

Instead, the tool should be used to identify at-risk individuals who could benefit from measures that address the social issues affecting their health.

Also, researchers and policymakers who work in fields related to health and aging may find multiple uses for the index.

If you care about wellness please read studies about a new way to reverse aging and chronic inflammation, and alcohol drinking can accelerate biological aging.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about a major cause of artery-damaging inflammation, and results showing scientists find herbal supplement to treat lung cancer.

The study was conducted by Sachin J. Shah et al and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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