Successful aging has many dimensions, which may manifest differently in men and women and at different ages. We sought to characterize one-year transitions in 12 measures of successful aging among a large cohort of older adults.


We analyzed twelve different measures of health in the Cardiovascular Health Study: self-rated health, ADLs, IADLs, depression, cognition, timed walk, number of days spent in bed, number of blocks walked, extremity strength, recent hospitalizations, feelings about life as a whole, and life satisfaction. We dichotomized responses for each variable into “healthy” or “sick”, and estimated the prevalence of the healthy state and the probability of transitioning from one state to another, or dying, during yearly intervals. We compared men and women, and three age groups (65-74, 75-84, and 85-94).


All measures of successful aging showed similar results, except for hospitalizations and cognition. Most participants remained healthy even into advanced ages, although health declined for all measures. Men had a higher death rate than women, regardless of health status, and were also more likely to be healthy.


The results suggest a qualitatively different experience of successful aging between men and women, with men showing a more "square" mortality curve. Men did not simply "age faster" than women.


Men and women age differently with regard to health status, with consistency among various health measures.



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