Maximal Age Reflects Ignoring the Health of the Oldest in General, Geriatric, and Gerontolo- Gical Studies
Geriatric Dept., Rebecca Sieff Government Hospital, Safed
In publications relating to the health of the elderly there are 2 ways of presenting maximal ages, collective (for example: 70+ years) and individual maximal age (for example 70 years). While enabling assessment up to a certain age, data from subjects above the maximal age stated in the research will not be included. From the literature of the past 10 years, there were selected 764 disease parameters (PD) and 177 parameters of aging (PA). Among them 667 (70.9%) and 274 (29.1%) were parameters with collective and exact maximal ages, respectively.
The lack of reference by authors to ages above 70 to 79 (or 70+ to 79+) and 80 to 89 (or 80+ to 89+) was calculated from the medical literature, and estimated as significant, and for ages above 80 to 89 was estimated as minimally significant, in regard to their focus on health data in the elderly. In different groups of parameters, 24% to 32% of maximal ages indicated significant and 25% to 65% minimal lack of reference. Maximal ages of PA were higher than those of PD (p<0.001), so lack of reference to health of the elderly was more significant when PD were studied as compared to PA. Lack of reference was more significant in studies of hospitalized and ambulatory patients and people living within the community. Usually authors checked all the populations of people living in nursing homes, but the total number of parameters relating to the latter, was very small, only 5.1% of the total number of parameters, so the populations of nursing homes did not reach the attention of the researchers.
Collective maximal ages are more often used in geriatric journals, including the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, as opposed to general and gerontological journals, although this approach seems to be too sweeping in the assessment of health of the elderly.