The Changing Health Patterns of Older Adults

Using data from nationwide surveys regarding the elderly in the U.S. and Japan, Benjamin Shaw of the School of Public Health is conducting a four-year National Institutes of Health-funded study on how older adults’ patterns of physical activity, substance use, and health care utilization change with increasing age.

Benjamin Shaw of the School of Public Health

Shaw’s study also looks at how racial, socioeconomic and cultural differences, as well as psychosocial factors of the elderly, impact health behaviors and quality of life.

Although individual health behaviors, including alcohol consumption, smoking, physical activity, and weight management, have been widely studied, Shaw believes we currently know little about how these behaviors change in later life. His study aims to:

  • Describe how individual health behaviors change during old age;
  • Assess the extent to which variations among individuals in late life health patterns of behavior are influenced by key social status indicators and psychosocial factors;
  • Analyze the interrelationships between health outcomes and various health behavior changes during late life; and
  • Compare and contrast the prevalence, determinants, and health impact of various patterns of late-life health behavior change in the U.S. and Japan.