Phenotypes of healthier aging: the role of environmental, behavioral, and biological factors in health trajectories

PI: Amaia Calderon Larrañaga, amaia.calderon.larranaga@ki.se

Biological changes that lead to aging are neither linear nor consistent, and their association with chronological age is weak. Older people follow different health trajectories over time. Hence, people’s observable aging traits (their aging phenotypes) exist on a continuum, and phases of the continuum can only be traced over time (longitudinally).

Our goal is to inform preventive strategies to promote healthier aging by 1) identifying trajectories of multimorbidity, frailty, and disability in the older population; 2) studying health trajectories as the synergistic combination of these three dimensions of health; 3) examining how environmental, behavioral, and biological factors relate to such trajectories; and 4) exploring how these trajectories change over time.

By analyzing trajectories of aging as a series of transitions, we will obtain a more complete understanding of the level, speed, and acceleration of health deterioration. Moreover, the integrated study of multimorbidity, frailty, and disability will enable us to consider health-related attributes that reflect people’s capacity to do what they value. Lastly, examining the interplay of multiple environmental, behavioral, and biological determinants will allow us to explore potential cumulative and/or interactive effects that underlie differences in aging phenotypes.

Eventually, the results will guide future person-centered interventions to reduce the societal burden of ill health in older people.

The project is funded by a grant from the Swedish Research Council.