Volume 19 - Article 38 | Pages 1435-1450

Blame the parents? The association between parental longevity and successful ageing

By Edlira Gjonça, Paola Zaninotto

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Date received:30 Aug 2007
Date published:14 Aug 2008
Word count:2608
Keywords:age/aging, cognitive functioning, longevity, parental lifespan, physical functioning, self-reported chronic disease, self-reported health


Research has suggested that children of long-lived parents might age more successfully than children of short-lived parents. The aim of this study is to contribute further to the understanding of the association between parental longevity and offspring’s successful ageing. We used data from Wave one of the English Longitudinal study of ageing (ELSA) to investigate the association between three measures of parental longevity and the respondents’ cognitive and physical functioning, self-reported health and several chronic diseases. We found that parental lifespan, especially mother’s lifespan, is positively associated with cognitive functioning at older age. Parental lifespan and mother’s lifespan were also found to be associated with a decreased likelihood of occurrence of some chronic diseases such as pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, hypertension and poor health.

Author's Affiliation

Edlira Gjonça - King's College London, United Kingdom [Email]
Paola Zaninotto - University College London (UCL), United Kingdom [Email]

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