Published Papers - Abstract 323

Byles J. Fit and Well at 80: Defying the stereotypes of age and illness. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2007; 1114: 107-120

While ageing is associated with physical decline and increased risk of illness, older age is not inevitably a time of ill-being. Data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health challenge negative stereotypes of ageing and illness. While an accelerating decline in average physical health was observed over the first six years of the study, an important and large proportion of the women experienced minimal change in their physical health in this period. Also, while chronic disease was a strong risk factor for declining health, many women aged well in spite of longstanding medical conditions. This paper presents trends in health and illness as women age and explores some of the many physical, social, and health care factors that mark out those women who remain “fit and well”.