Health development in late life: Towards a functional care of older people with multiple illnesses and disabilities through understanding patterns of change and their causes

This is a project that is conducted in collaboration with Karolinska Institutet. To understand the heterogeneity of transition phases of aging individuals, we envision an integrated research program that uses a lifespan approach to address a number of questions about how environment, lifestyle and genes act, in synergy, to produce individual patterns of outcomes. We focus in particular on early and midlife environments and biomarkers, how potential buffering effects may extend the number of healthy years, and aim at a full description of the individuals characterized by multiple impairments (biological, functional in a broad sense, and social deficits) and multimorbidity. The outcomes of our research program will help identify how future health care, preventive care, and health-promoting care for individuals with multiple impairments should best be organized. The research program includes three interacting, multidisciplinary themes: 1) Identifying the patterns of multiple impairments and multimorbidity and subsequently, the buffering effects of lifestyle and environmental factors on these longitudinal trajectories late in life. 2) Understanding the transition phase from healthy to multiple impairments and multimorbidity by studying genetics, epigenetics, and gene-environment interactions. 3) Assessing how health care for persons with multiple impairments, and interventions directed at those who are at an increased risk of multiple impairments, can prevent or slow down the development of impairments and, on the positive side, promote health.

This research project is supported by the Swedish Research Council

Contact: Linda Johansson