Background: The existence of a super-select group of centenarians that demonstrates increased survivorship has been hypothesized. However, it is unknown if this super-select group possesses similar characteristics apart from extreme longevity. Methods: In this study, we analyse high-quality health and survival data of Danish centenarians born in 1895, 1905 and 1910. We use Latent Class Analysis to identify unobserved health classes and to test whether these super-select lives share similar health characteristics. Results: We find that, even after age 100, a clear and distinct gradient in health exists and that this gradient is remarkably similar across different birth cohorts of centenarians. Based on the level of health, we identify three clusters of centenarians - robust, frail and intermediate - and show that these groups have different survival prospects. The most distinctive characteristic of the robust centenarians is the outperformance in different health dimensions (physical, functional and cognitive). Finally, we show that our health class categorizations are good predictors of the survival prospects of centenarians. Conclusions: There is a clear stratification in health and functioning among those over 100 years of age and these differences are associated with survival beyond age 100.
Bibliografisk noteFunding Information:
The research and publication of this paper were supported by the AXA Research Fund, through the funding for the “AXA Chair in Longevity Research”.
The various studies of the Danish Birth Cohorts have received funding from different contributors. They are presented here as an assembled list: Danish National Research Foundation; U.S. National Institute on Aging - National Institutes of Health [grant PO1-AG08761]; Danish Health Insurance Foundation [grant 2006B139]; Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation; Danish Interdisciplinary Research Council; Danish Council for Independent Research – Medical Science [grant 09- 070081]; Novo Nordisk Foundation; Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark; Clinical Institute of Research, University of Southern Denmark; Agnes and Knut Mørk Foundation; Health Foundation (Helsefonden) [grant 16-B-0271]. The Danish Aging Research Center is supported by a grant from the Velux Foundation.