At what age do you feel 65?

A 30-year gap separates countries with the highest and lowest ages at which people experience the health problems of a 65-year-old, according to a new scientific study.

Researchers found 76-year-olds in Japan and 46-year-olds in Papua New Guinea have the same level of age-related health problems as an “average” person aged 65.

“These disparate findings show that increased life expectancy at older ages can either be an opportunity or a threat to the overall welfare of populations, depending on the aging-related health problems the population experiences regardless of chronological age.” said Dr. Angela Y. Chang, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Health Trends and Forecasts at the University of Washington. “Age-related health problems can lead to early retirement, a smaller workforce, and higher health spending. Government leaders and other stakeholders influencing health systems need to consider when people begin suffering the negative effects of aging.”

These negative effects include impaired functions and loss of physical, mental, and cognitive abilities resulting from the 92 conditions analyzed, five of which are communicable and 81 non-communicable, along with six injuries.

The studies and additional information are available at http://www.healthdata.org

The study, published yesterday in the international medical journal The Lancet Public Health, is the first of its kind, according to Chang, whose center is housed at the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Where traditional metrics of aging examine increased longevity, this study explores both chronological age and the pace at which aging contributes to health deterioration. The study uses estimates from the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD).

Read more at Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation