Special Edition on Longevity !
Editorial by Dr Jean-Marie Robine
The decrease in old age mortality started in the 1930s in the most advanced countries but it was only noticed in the 1970s.
It led to the formulation of three main theories about the expected changes in the health status of the populations, the compression of morbidity, the pandemic of disability, and the dynamic equilibrium.
According to the first theory morbidity is compressed at the end of life due to the adoption of
healthy behaviors and the hypothesis of strong limitations on longevity. According to the second theory, we are merely keeping the sick people alive longer increasing the prevalence of chronic diseases and disability.
According to the third theory we are keeping the sick people alive longer but we are also slowing down the development of the chronic diseases and postponing the onset of disability. However, the most surprising observation during the last decades was the strong decrease in oldest old mortality, leading to an unexpected increase in the number of nonagenarians and centenarians.
The previous theories do not help to understand the relationship between the level of mortality selection (how easy or difficult it is to survive to a given age) and the functional health status of the survivors (i.e. the people reaching this given age).
This is the new frontier in healthy and active longevity research and it where the 5-Country Oldest Old Project (5-COOP) is going with the help of AXA Research Fund.