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Senior health about more than disease, study finds

WASHINGTON — New research of older adults suggests that factors such as loneliness and whether they’ve broken any bones since middle age play a role in their well-being.

Adding that information better predicts whether a senior’s next five years will be fairly robust or whether they’re at higher risk for death or disability than just focusing on what chronic diseases they have, researchers reported Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

‘‘Aging is not a linear process of wear and tear,’’ said University of Chicago biopsychologist Martha McClintock, who led the study. ‘‘It’s a different way of thinking about aging.’’


Using a government study of 3,000 middle-aged and older people, the researchers focused on psychological health, mobility, hearing and other sensory capabilities, and additional characteristics of day-to-day functioning.

The work may redefine how doctors determine older patients’ vigor and quality of life, said Dr. John Haaga of the National Institute on Aging, which funded the research.

Associated Press