A large, long term study of older adults has analysed the predictors of mortality. In decreasing order, they are:

  • Smoking (hazard ratio of 1.9, which means 90% more likely to cause death than not smoking)
  • Divorce (1.4)
  • Alcohol abuse (1.3)
  • Financial difficulties (1.3)
  • Unemployment (1.3)
  • Life dissatisfaction (1.3)
  • Never married (1.3)
  • Low mood (1.2)
  • Negative interactions with family (1.2)
  • Negative childhood experiences (1.2)
  • Discrimination (1.2)
  • Pessimism (1.2)
  • Inactivity (1.2)
  • Loneliness (1.1)
  • Lower wealth (1.1)
  • Insomnia (1.1)
  • Lower education (1.1)
  • Religion (1, which means no difference)

These findings emphasise the importance of social determinants, such as childhood experiences, employment,  and support from friends and family, in addition to the well documented risk factors such as smoking, alcohol abuse or inactivity. Other studies also identify:

  • Self-reported health status
  • Mobility limitations
  • Functional capacity – ability to perform activities of daily living at home (e.g. showering)
  • Mental health condition

This highlights the need to consider broader influences beyond physical risk factors – all aspects of our lives impact our health and well-being!

References:

  • https://www.pnas.org/content/117/28/16273
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791760/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951106/
  • https://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/39/4/337.full.pdf