Years of life with good and poor mental and physical function in the elderly

David A. Snowdon, Sharon K. Ostwald, Robert L. Kane, Nora L. Keenan

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40 Scopus citations


A population of Roman Catholic sisters (nuns) were divided into a high education group (i.e. at least a Bachelor's degree) and a low education group (i.e. less than a Bachelor's degree). Prevalence data on 132, 75-94 year old, sisters indicated that the high-educated had better mobility and hand coordination, stronger handgrip, better distant and near visual acuity, and fewer mental impairments than the low-educated group. Life table analyses on 154 sisters indicated that the high-educated lived an average of 3.28 years longer after age 75 than the low-educated. Years of life with relatively good and poor mental and physical function after age 75 were estimated by a mathematical model that used mortality and prevalence data. According to the model, high-educated sisters lived an average of 3.57 years longer with good function and 0.29 of a year less with poor function than low-educated sisters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1066
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements-This work was supported by a grant from the Basic Research and Support Grant program of the School of Public Health (NIH BRSG No. 2-S07-RR05448) and grants from the All-University Council on Aging and the Sloan Foundation.


  • Aging
  • Education
  • Function
  • Health
  • Life expectancy


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