Early Life Conditions and Later Life (65+) Co-Morbidity Trajectories: The Utah Population Database Linked to Medicare Claims Data

Ken R. Smith, University of Utah
Heidi Hanson, Huntsman Cancer Institute

We examine the association between one of the earliest life conditions, one’s family history of longevity, and later life morbidity trajectories. Familial longevity is often used to predict mortality risk but here we consider co-morbidity dynamics as the outcome using the Charlson Co-Morbidity Index which summarizes serious illnesses afflicting older individuals. We identify a range of distinctive co-morbidity trajectories (e.g., some individuals remain healthy through their older years while others have rising morbidity levels) using PROC TRAJ (SAS) and then estimate how familial longevity affects an individual’s chances of being a member of a trajectory type. We use record linkages between the Utah Population Database and Medicare claims data from 1992-2002 that hold medical diagnoses data for the Medicare population in Utah. We show how persons with a history of advantageous familial longevity are not only living longer but are also living longer while experiencing the most healthful disease trajectories.

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Presented in Session 78: Trends and Trajectories in Health and Disability