Scandinavians are the healthiest in old age

Maciamo

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An interactive chart by The Economist shows the relation between life expectancy, GDP per capita, and the proportion of elderly people living in good health.

The results are somewhat surprising. While the French, Swiss, Italians and Spaniards live the longest, the graph shows that relatively few (40% in average) Italians and Austrians over 65 years old spend their retirement years in good health. Even the wealthy Swiss are well under the curve, at 50%. In contrast, the Swedes, Norwegians and Icelanders are all above the curve, with about 75 to 80% of them remaining healthy in old age. Danes and Germans are around 60%, only slightly above the curve.

Oddly, the Finns are slightly under average (about 45%), so one cannot say that the Nordic climate is what preserves health. The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians and most Slavs are also under average. Therefore difference is more likely genetic. In fact, Swedes and Norwegians, despite their very different GDP per capita, have a quasi identical proportion of healthy elderly. Sweden is actually slightly higher, especially for women.
 
The dark winters are a challenge in northern Europe. It causes many depressions.
Alcohol provides some comfort for the long nights, but it is not the best way to handle it.
 
I was expecting Finnland to be high, strange. How does Britain fare in this ?

Just checked, very average, if not the most average, so how is this related to Germanic groups our dear Maciamo :grin: Ireland is higher than Britain at about 60% like Denmark.

Malta's score is about 70%.
 
The dark winters are a challenge in northern Europe. It causes many depressions.
Alcohol provides some comfort for the long nights, but it is not the best way to handle it.

It seems to me the article says the opposite; That those "dark nights" do not affect health at all and in fact Scandos live not only long, but also in good health.
 
It seems to me the article says the opposite; That those "dark nights" do not affect health at all and in fact Scandos live not only long, but also in good health.

the article doesn't say anything about long winter nights and depressions, it's something I remember from some older articles
the article mentions pavements and pedestrian signals, I don't think that is a decisive factor, IMO it is more about the attitiude of these older people toward life
 
The article is not saying they are less subject to the major killers like heart attacks, strokes, cancer. It's rather the opposite, since those diseases are the lethal ones, and they have a lower life span. They're talking about things like eyesight and hearing. I would bet that for women, who are also in poorer health on average, things like arthritis also come into play, which anecdotally really seems to plague the old in Italy. More chronic and manageable, but less lethal diseases may predominate elsewhere.

I don't know, would you rather die four or five years earlier rather than live with arthritis and have to wear a hearing aid?

You'd have to see their data for "poor health" to know what's really going on.

If the Scandinavians didn't have such high rates of suicide caused by depression, their stats for longevity would be better. I don't think, btw, that it's all because of lack of sunlight, although that definitely is a factor. Clinical depression, in contrast to situational depression, is heavily genetic in origin. Of course, if the Italians didn't smoke so much, and if they didn't take so many risks while driving, causing so many deaths in traffic accidents, the same would be true. There may be some part of those behaviors which is also genetic.
 
South Koreans and Sardinians live the longest

live longest may or may not mean healthiest
 
South Koreans and Sardinians live the longest

live longest may or may not mean healthiest

it's not age that counts, it's how long you stay healthy
quantity is useless, we need quality
 
As I said, it depends how you define "ill health". I've thought about it some more, and I'd rather live five years longer even if I have to wear a hearing aid, or get cataract surgery. I've lived with hypertension for 15 years already. A little pill each day takes care of it. If I have to live with arthritis, it depends how debilitating it is, I suppose. If it's morning stiffness and creaking joints, I'll take it. If it's type two diabetes where I have to watch my diet, fine. If it's type 2 diabetes where I have to constantly take injections, maybe not.

In my experience, a lot of people say they'd rather be dead than deal with certain illnesses, but when they're right smack up against it, they almost always will choose to live with certain illnesses rather than die. Dealing with pain from cancer when it's spread to the bones, or with neurological impairment is absolutely a different situation, and I've known people who pray to die when they have those things. I'd also infinitely prefer to die than to linger on with Alzheimers.

I did find these charts for causes of death by country. I don't know if they're totally accurate, but the first and second cause of death in both countries is heart disease and stroke. (That's also true for almost every country I looked at.) After that, there are differences.

Sweden:

The number of deaths from falls, other injuries, and pneumonia surprise me. Do they more often live alone?

Italy:

More breast cancer (no surprise, as it's tied to more estrogen at an earlier age), more lung cancer (those cigarettes), more hypertension (some is genetic, some is that we love our salt, including me), less Alzheimers, less prostate cancer, not enough suicides to make the list.

Of course, this doesn't compare the percentages by country, I just thought it would be interesting to see the order within each country.
 
I wouldn't mind living forever with a hearing aid as long as I'm still in good health overall and not confined to a wheelchair and oxygen tank.
 
Good doctors and good medical care, so of course. But I prefer to end my days in a place like Costa Rica or Brazil where quality of life is high to me. Better to live well and then die rather than being artificially kept alive by a "good system".
 
The difference in lifespan is not huge, about 4 years from worse country to the best. A quality of healthcare, wait for seeing specialists or for operation, and accessibility to all population, could explain that.
The explanation will be in few details, because generally speaking the healthier the population the longer people live and better quality of life they have.
 
The dark winters are a challenge in northern Europe. It causes many depressions.
Alcohol provides some comfort for the long nights, but it is not the best way to handle it.

I think it depends on a lot of things; genetic inheritage explain some facts but maybe not only for the lone metabolic aspect; it could be genetic inheritage too concerning sensibility, depressive condition, response to alcoholic help (controle or addiction at the opposite) - Slavs and in some way Finnic people are perhaps inclined to fatalist deportments? No offense, only rough suppositions without confirmed background -
apart this question of life hygiene, I red somewhere it has been discovered a specific gene present among one Amish community in the USA, gene responsible for longer life (a gain about 8/10 years life) -
 
Good posts here above this last one of mine - a lot of things, evidently: heredity, social system, quantity and quality of food, too much or too less stress and so on... but I don't discard completelty social class level and its several consequences; physical activity challenges for me the medical help in some cases; before long we 'll discover some over-medication doesn't help too much to conserve health in great age -
It spites me but I've begun to taste some pills (I take only the half of the prescription, it seems without bad effect to date... but who knows?) - I laugh easily thanks god, it helps!
 
I think it depends on a lot of things; genetic inheritage explain some facts but maybe not only for the lone metabolic aspect; it could be genetic inheritage too concerning sensibility, depressive condition, response to alcoholic help (controle or addiction at the opposite) - Slavs and in some way Finnic people are perhaps inclined to fatalist deportments? No offense, only rough suppositions without confirmed background -
apart this question of life hygiene, I red somewhere it has been discovered a specific gene present among one Amish community in the USA, gene responsible for longer life (a gain about 8/10 years life) -

See:
https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/34895-Rare-mutation-protects-against-aging?p=524595#post524595

There are definitely genetic factors involved with depression and alcoholism and suicide and they are usually co-morbid. That said, certain environmental factors and life situations can definitely exacerbate them.

I get depressed around February from the darkness too, and it's not as bad as in Scandinavia. Suicide has never entered my head, however, no matter how awful things get. That's the difference.
 

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