To grow old in southern Italy: A comprehensive description of the old and oldest old in Calabria

Francesco De Rango, Alberto Montesanto, Maurizio Berardelli, Bruno Mazzei, Vincenzo Mari, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Andrea Corsonello, Giuseppe Passarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The unprecedented growth of the elderly population is posing important social and medical problems as management of this population is highly demanding in terms of assistance and care. Consequently, many studies are focusing on the elderly subjects in order to better understand their needs by identifying various environmental, social, psychological, and genetic factors determining the quality of ageing. Objectives: Our aim was to carry out a survey of the elderly Calabrian population in order to highlight the social and medical conditions of this continuously growing population group. Methods: We have been monitoring the elderly population of Calabria for more than 10 years. For the present study, we collected data regarding 853 subjects by using two specific questionnaires, one for the subjects older than 90 years (400 subjects) and one for the subjects aged between 65 and 85 years (453 subjects). Results: The survey allowed us to carry out an extensive description of the ageing Calabrian population regarding the sociodemographic characteristics, living conditions, cognitive functioning, level of independence in activities of daily living, former and current diseases and health disorders. We could notice that males were in a better condition than females. In fact, male subjects turned out to have better physical performance and lower comorbidity, although their life expectancy is lower. Ultranonagenarians had a lower incidence of serious diseases (such as diabetes, osteoporosis and gastric ulcer), but a higher incidence of non-fatal chronic, debilitating conditions (cataract and bronchitis among others). Conclusion: The data we collected and analyzed offer a portrait of elderly Calabrian subjects, on who they are, how they feel, which social and psychological resources they have, and what their health status is. Analysis of the data highlighted that they are characterized by a lower physical performance in comparison to other European populations. Finally, the data presented here may also serve as a valuable source of information to characterize the ageing Calabrian population and improve the care of these subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-334
Number of pages8
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Calabrian elderly
  • Healthy ageing
  • Longevity
  • Physical performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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