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Perceived Age Correlates With Survival and Functioning

Study among twins finds that perceived age is a reliable marker for ageing for those 70 and older

TUESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A follow-up analysis to the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins suggests that the perceived age of an elderly person correlates with their physical and mental functioning as well as survival, according to a study published online Dec. 13 in BMJ.

Kaare Christensen, M.D., of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and colleagues had three groups of age "assessors" (20 experienced geriatric nurses, 11 older women [age peers], and 10 young men) look at photos of twins aged 70 years or older. Their age assessments were then correlated with data on the twin's survival, physical and cognitive function and leucocyte telomere length (among the older twins). The assessors' sex, age, and background were also evaluated for any impact on the results.

For each of the assessor groups, the researchers found that perceived age was significantly associated with survival, even when adjusted for chronological age, sex, and environment. They further found that the likelihood of the older-looking twin dying first tended to increase as the perceived age disparity between the twins increased. Perceived age also was significantly correlated with physical and cognitive functioning and leucocyte telomere length.

"Perceived age -- which is widely used by clinicians as a general indication of a patient's health is a robust biomarker of ageing that predicts survival among those aged ≥70 and correlates with important functional and molecular ageing phenotypes," the authors write.

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