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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 243263, 9 pages
Research Article

Transitions among Health States Using 12 Measures of Successful Aging in Men and Women: Results from the Cardiovascular Health Study

1Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
2Geriatrics Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Puget Sound VA Medical Center and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, P.O. Box 356560, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
3Departments of Biostastitics and Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA

Received 5 March 2012; Revised 10 September 2012; Accepted 12 September 2012

Academic Editor: Loretta DiPietro

Copyright © 2012 Stephen Thielke and Paula Diehr. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Successful aging has many dimensions, which may manifest differently in men and women at different ages. Methods. We characterized one-year transitions among health states in 12 measures of successful aging among adults in the Cardiovascular Health Study. The measures included self-rated health, ADLs, IADLs, depression, cognition, timed walk, number of days spent in bed, number of blocks walked, extremity strength, recent hospitalizations, feelings about life as a whole, and life satisfaction. We dichotomized variables into “healthy” or “sick,” states, and estimated the prevalence of the healthy state and the probability of transitioning from one state to another, or dying, during yearly intervals. We compared men and women and three age groups (65–74, 75–84, and 85–94). Findings. Measures of successful aging showed similar results by gender. Most participants remained healthy even into advanced ages, although health declined for all measures. Recuperation, although less common with age, still occurred frequently. Men had a higher death rate than women regardless of health status, and were also more likely to remain in the healthy state. Discussion. The results suggest a qualitatively different experience of successful aging between men and women. Men did not simply “age faster” than women.