Dynamics and heterogeneity in the process of human frailty and aging: evidence from the U.S. older adult population.

TitleDynamics and heterogeneity in the process of human frailty and aging: evidence from the U.S. older adult population.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsYang, Y, Lee, LC
JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Date Published2010 Mar
ISSN Number1758-5368
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, Aging, Cohort Studies, Female, Frail Elderly, Humans, Male, Surveys and Questionnaires, United States

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the dynamics and heterogeneity of the frailty index (FI) conceived as a systemic indicator of biological aging in the community-dwelling older adult population in the United States.

METHODS: We used panel data on multiple birth cohorts from the Health and Retirement Survey 1993-2006 and growth curve models to estimate age trajectories of the FI and their differences by sex, race, and socioeconomic status (SES) within cohorts.

RESULTS: The FI for cohorts born before 1942 exhibit quadratic increases with age and accelerated increases in the accumulation of health deficits. More recent cohorts exhibit higher average levels of and rates of increment in the FI than their predecessors do at the same ages. Females, non-Whites, and individuals with low education and income exhibit greater degrees of physiological deregulation than their male, White, and high-SES counterparts at any age. Patterns of sex, race, and SES differentials in rates of aging vary across cohorts.

DISCUSSION: Adjusting for social behavioral factors, the analysis provides evidence for physiological differences in the aging process among recent cohorts of older adults, points to the need for biological explanations of female excess in general system damage, and reveals the insufficiency of any single mechanism for depicting the racial and SES differences in the process of physiological deterioration.

User Guide Notes


Endnote Keywords

Frailty index/Deficits accumulation/Biological aging/Heterogeneity of frailty/age trajectories

Endnote ID


Alternate JournalJ Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci
Citation Key7454
PubMed ID20007299
PubMed Central IDPMC2981448
Grant ListR24 HD050924 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30 AG-12857 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States