BACKGROUND: As populations age, the possible consequences of increased frailty are a major concern for the health sector. Here, we investigate how life expectancy with and without frailty has changed during a 10-11-year-period across Europe.
METHODS: The Sullivan method was used to investigate changes in life expectancy with and without frailty in 10 European countries. Frailty status (non-frail, pre-frail and frail) was determined by use of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe Frailty Instrument (SHARE-FI). Data on frailty prevalence was obtained from 21 698 individuals in wave 1 (2004-05) and 38 859 individuals in wave 6 (2015) of the SHARE. Information on mortality was obtained from the Eurostat Database.
RESULTS: In 2015, women aged 70 spent 25.0% (95% CI: 24.0-26.1) of their remaining life expectancy in a frail state, and the number for men was 11.5% (95% CI: 10.7-12.3). Southern Europeans spent 24.2% (95% CI: 22.9-25.4) of their remaining life expectancy in a frail state and the numbers for Central Europeans and Northern Europeans were 17.0% (95% CI: 16.0-17.9) and 12.2% (95% CI: 10.9-13.5), respectively. From 2004-05 to 2015, life expectancy increased by 1.1 years (from 15.3 to 16.4 years) for 70-year-old Europeans. Similarly, non-frail life expectancy increased by 1.1 years (95% CI: 0.8-1.4), whereas no significant changes in life expectancy in frail states were observed.
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that Europeans today spend more years in a non-frail state than Europeans did 10-11 years ago. Our findings reflect a considerable inequality by gender and region.