Federal grants from the National Institute on Aging and the American Federation for Aging Research helped pay for researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, to create a “mortality index” designed to aid doctors in decision-making about “preventive intervention” for older patients.
The index provides doctors with 12 measures to assign points to an elderly patient. The lower the patient’s total points, the better his or her odds of survival. The highest score, 26 points, represents a 95-percent chance the patient will die within 10 years.
The index assigns all male subjects 2 points automatically because men on the average have a lower life expectancy than women, the study noted. Men and women aged between 60 and 64 get 1 point; ages 70 and 74 get 3 points, while 85 or over get 7 points.
Two points are further assigned in the following cases: Patients with a current or a previous cancer diagnosis, excluding minor skin cancers; lung disease impacting on physical activity or requiring oxygen; heart failure; smoking; difficulty bathing; difficulty managing money because of health or memory problems; difficulty walking several blocks. One point is assigned to those with diabetes or high blood sugar; difficulty pushing a large object; being thin or of abnormal weight.
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