Healthy life expectancy

The number of years an individual of a particular age can expect to live in good health, assuming the current risks of death and bad health apply. There are four types of healthy life expectancy:

  • In perceived good health.

The calculation of healthy life expectancy is based on the answer to the question ‘How is your general state of health?’ People who reply ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ are defined as healthy.

  • Without physical limitations.

Life expectancy without physical limitations is calculated on the basis of data on long-term limitations in mobility, sight and hearing. People who reply ‘yes’, ‘easily’ or ‘yes, with a certain amount of effort’ are defined as having no physical limitations.
- Can you follow a conversation in a group of 3 or more people (with or without a hearing aid)?
- Can you have a conversation with one other person (with or without a hearing aid)?
- Is your sight good enough to read the small print in the newspaper (with or without glasses or contact lenses)?
- Are you able to recognise somebody’s face at a distance of 4 metres (with or without glasses or contact lenses)?
- Can you carry an object weighing 5 kilos, for example a shopping bag, over a distance of 10 metres?
- Can you bend down from an upright position to pick something up from the floor?
- Can you walk over a distance of 400 metres without stopping (with or without a walking stick)?

  • Without chronic diseases.

A number of diseases leading to death or seriously affecting the quality of life were selected to determine life expectancy without chronic diseases. People reporting not to have or have had any of the diseases mentioned below in the past twelve months are defined as free from chronic diseases. The following (groups of) chronic diseases are used for the calculation of life expectancy without chronic diseases:
- heart condition and/or myocardial infarction (12 years and older)
- asthma, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema or chronic non-specific pulmonary disease
- cancer
- stroke (12 years and older)
- diabetes
- serious or chronic gastrointestinal disorders
- chronic arthritis (Bechterew’s disease, chronic rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis)
- serious or chronic backache (including slipped disk)
- degenerative arthritis in hips or knees (12 years and older)
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- migraine or recurring serious fits of headache

  • In good mental health

The calculation of the number of ‘healthy’ years in the life expectancy in good mental health is based on the Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5). The MHI-5 measures the general mental health condition in a population. It is determined by the balance of positive and negative feelings.
The MHO-5 includes the following questions:

  1. Have you been very nervous?
  2. Did you feel so down in the dumps that nothing could cheer you up?
  3. Have you felt calm and peaceful?
  4. Have you been downhearted and blue?
  5. Were you happy?

The questions about experienced health, physical limitations, chronic illness and mental health are part of the Health survey. The data presented in this article are based on a sample survey and therefore subject to a margin of error.

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