Being 95+

Experiencing health at 95+: Qualitative interview study with surviving participants from 85+ study

Project Lead: Joy Adamson

Project Team: Newcastle

People are living longer, with those aged over 85 years being the fastest growing group of our population.  Despite this, knowledge of the health and functioning of the over 85s has been scant.  In 2006, the Newcastle 85+ study commenced to address this gap in knowledge, and over 1000 people aged 85 years (born in 1921) took part.  A wide variety of information on their health, family and social circumstances, and use of health and care services was collected.

Ten years later (2016), these people were re-contacted and assessed as they reached 95 years.  Very few studies have included people aged 95.  We have found that 95 year olds differ greatly in terms of their health and functioning and in terms of the support they require from family and health and care services.  Some remain well, whilst others develop a number of health problems, particularly cognitive impairment and dementia.

The 10 year follow up visit focused mainly on assessing the health of these older people, now we would like to consider in more detail the experience of what it is like to be over 95 years.  To do so we will interview the participants about why they think they have aged differently to others, why they think they have lived this long, how they feel about their health and social care needs, as well as their ability to do the activities they enjoy.  We will ask about their relationships with other people to understand more about social isolation and loneliness.  Importantly, we will ask the participants what their hopes and expectations are for the future.  The insights we gain from talking to this unique population will be able to inform the design of primary care services to incorporate the needs of the oldest old.