European Journal of Ageing, 2023

Subjective age and the association with intrinsic capacity, functional ability, and health among older adults in Norway


This study investigates the relationships between subjective age, intrinsic capacity, functional ability and health among Norwegians aged 60 years and older. The Norwegian Survey of Health and Ageing (NORSE) is a population-based, cross-sectional study of home-dwelling individuals aged 60-96 years in the former county of Oppland. Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were used to investigate the gap between subjective and chronological age and this gap’s association with self-reported and objectively measured intrinsic capacity (covering all six sub domains defined by WHO), health, and functional ability among 817 NORSE participants. The results show most participants felt younger than their chronological age (86.5%), while relatively few felt the same as their chronological age (8.3%) or older (5.2%). The mean subjective age was 13.8 years lower than mean chronological age. Participants with urinal incontinence, poor vision, or poor hearing felt 3.1 [95% confidence interval (CI) (0.6, 5.5)], 2.9 [95% CI (0.2, 5.6)], and 2.9 [95% CI (0.3, 5.5)] years older, respectively, than participants without those conditions, whereas none of the following factors-anxiety, depression, chronic disease, Short Physical Performance Battery score, grip strength, cognition, or frailty-significantly had an impact on the gap. In line with prior research, this study finds that feeling considerably younger than one’s chronological age is common at older ages. However, those with poor hearing, poor vision, and urinal incontinence felt less young compared to those not having these conditions. These relationships may exert undesirable effects on vitality and autonomy, which are considered key factors of intrinsic capacity and healthy ageing.


Ellen Melbye Langballe, Vegard Skirbekk, Bjørn Heine Strand

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