Background In older adults evidence showed that subjective wellbeing is associated with reduced risk of mortality and the incidence of chronic conditions. With the dramatic increase in life expectancy, it is important to gain a better understanding of the lives of older individuals. While life expectancy is a useful indicator of health, it is becoming increasingly recognised that health expectancy, which quantifies the quality of remaining years of life, is also crucial. The aim of this study is to estimate health expectancy in men and women according to enjoyment of life.
Methods We used data from a nationally representative sample of 8852 individuals aged 50 and over participants of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), followed from 2002 to 2013.The main outcome measures are chronic disease-free and disability-free health expectancy, the main exposure is enjoyment of life, adjustment variables are social class, sex and age.Discrete-time multistate life table models were used to estimate health expectancies from the ages of 50 to 100, by age and sex and adjusted for social class.
Results Men and women experiencing high enjoyment of life could expect to live an additional 32 and 34 years of their remaining lives free from disability. Disability-free life expectancy at the age of 50 and 65 was approximately four years shorter for men and women who experienced low enjoyment of life compared to those who experienced high enjoyment of life. At the age of 50 men and women who experienced low enjoyment of life could expect to live an additional 16 years of their lives free from a chronic condition, compared to 20 and 22 additional years for men and women who experienced high enjoyment of life. At the age of 65 chronic disease-free life expectancy is 6 years for men and women experiencing low enjoyment of life and 9 years for those who experienced high enjoyment of life.
Conclusion Our study showed that those who experienced enjoyment of life have higher life expectancy than those who don’t. This study also showed that the quality of remaining life is also important, individuals experiencing high enjoyment of life could expect to live a higher number of years in good health (without disability and chronic conditions) compared to those experiencing low enjoyment of life.
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