What happens to our bodies as we age?  A study published in 1981 can help us answer that question.  “The Framingham Disability Study II, Physical Disability Among the Aging” looks at many factors and what limitations occur as we get older.  This information becomes even more relevant today as the second largest generation, the baby boomers, are now aged 56 to 75 years old.    


The study looked at 2,654 individuals ages 55 to 84 years old from 1976 to 1978.  The statistics are sobering, sometimes scary and can serve as a wake-up call to some.  Sadly, since this study, our health markers have only gotten worst.  For instance, obesity has tripled since 1975.  


Here are some results of the study that really stood out to me: 

 When it comes to performing independently six activities of daily living (ADLs), over 90% of respondents were able to do them.


 When performing three gross mobility activities: heavy household work, walking half a mile (804 metres) and climbing stairs, only    50% of individuals over 75 were able to perform all three. 


45% of women between 65-74 and 66% of women 75-84 have difficulty lifting a weight over 10 lbs.   


A rate of 4,402 chronic diseases per 1000 people 65 or older is estimated compared to 407 chronic diseases per 1000 people under 16 years of age.  This means each person over 65 has an    average of 4 chronic diseases! 


In the Framingham Disability Study, women appear to be more disabled than men.  Some questions need to be investigated further before concluding why it appears so, but it is an    observation worth  noting.  


For some, old age is synonymous with illness and disability.  Baby boomers are changing this perception.  They want to live life to the maximum, go to concerts, travel, hike, ski…  And the research backs it up.  In the book “Age and Happiness,” there is an increase in happiness from around 60 to 70.  This belief that life is to be enjoyed as we get older gives us a great push to ensure we are healthy.  That we take care of our bodies.  Along with sleep, nutrition and exercise are the key components to help you achieve this goal. 


The Framingham study shows that “life after 60 is not a period inexorably marked with massive physical deterioration.  Quite the contrary.  These data suggest that for the majority of these Framingham elders, the later years of life are characterized by substantial physical ability.” 


To read the Framingham Study, CLICK HERE.