Steinhagen-Thiessen, E., & Borchelt, M. (1999). Morbidity, medication, and functional limitations in very old age. In P. B. Baltes & K. U. Mayer (Eds.), The Berlin Aging Study: Aging from 70 to 100 (pp. 131-166). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This chapter provides a brief overview of the main research topics, applied methods, and basic results of the Internal Medicine and Geriatrics Unit of the Berlin Aging Study (BASE). It focuses on (a) physical illnesses, (b) medication and related risks, and (c) functional incapabilites with regard to performance-oriented functional limitations and need for help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL). Profiles of functioning in each domain are presented from various perspectives. Particular emphasis lies on the recognition of potential determinants of morbidity in old age, exemplified by the atherosclerosis risk profile, and on the analysis of qualitative aspects of medication (over-, under-, and inappropriate medication). Finally, based on a recently proposed model of the disablement process in old age, these domains are considered from an integrated (systemic) perspective of health in old age with functional capacity at its center. The results show a high degree of morbidity, but also indicate many modifiable risk factors for illness and disability, opening new vistas of prevention and therapy in old and very old age.