Introduction The average life expectancy of the Japanese is the highest in the world. What makes Japan different from other countries? According to International Comparison Survey in 2005, one of characteristics of Japanese elderly was low proportion of those who live alone (11.0% in Japan, 35.4% in USA, 38.6% in France). This study aims to examine relationship between living arrangement and healthy life expectancy among the elderly in Japan.
Methods This study is based on data from the Aichi Gerontological Evaluation Study(AGES) Project. We analysed 13 295 persons aged 65 or older who were functionally independent at baseline. The endpoint was loss of health (death or functional decline) during follow-up period of 48 months. Independent variables were living arrangements, age, years of current address, income, diseases, body mass index, smoking, drinking, walking, and depression. Cox regression was used to calculate the HR. Analyses were stratified by gender.
Result Cox regression showed significant higher HR of loss of health for living alone (HR=1.54 for men, HR=1.41 for women) compared to those who living with spouse and children after controlling for age. After controlling for other variables, significant HR were shown for living alone (HR=1.32 for men, HR=1.31 for women).
Conclusions Living arrangements were significantly rerated to loss of health. The norm of parent-child co-residence possibly has contributed to Japanese longevity up to the present. These results suggest that the recent increasing trend in number of the elderly living alone can result ruin health of Japanese in the future.
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