Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu/ Life and Living in Advanced Age in New Zealand – A longitudinal cohort study of octogenarians

LiLACS NZ is a world leading bicultural study of advanced ageing. Over 400Māori aged 80-90 years and 500 non-Māori aged exactly 85 years from New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region were engaged in 2010, interviewed about health, social, cultural and environmental aspects of living in advanced age, and then followed up every year for 5 years. Those aged 85+ use the most public health and welfare spending per capita and New Zealand’s population of octogenarians as a percentage of the total population is projected to increase six-fold by 2050. LiLACS NZ is asking and answering important questions that will help people to plan better for their own health and wellbeing in later life. Study participants are sharing their wisdom with future generations and informing the planning and development of local and national policies to benefit older people. The dataset provided by the cohort is a wealth of quantitative data complimented by qualitative information which provides a richness and depth enabling us to understand people living in advanced age in New Zealand. Hallmark findings of the study to date include:

  • Most participants could manage daily activities independently with some assistance from whanau and family, and support agencies.
  • Despite levels of ability decreasing over time, mental health related quality of life stayed high, demonstrating resilience in ageing Māori who were more involved in their language and culture had higher health related quality of life than Māori who were less engaged.
  • Some cohort participants received up to 30 hours of unpaid care, with Māori men receiving more informal care than other groups.
  • The study identified that health board residency contributed to inequitable access to social support services. This inequity was then rectified by working with the district health boards involved.
  • Bread is the staff of life for New Zealand’s octogenarians. It is the largest contributor to energy and carbohydrate and also contributes protein.