Health, Independence and Caregiving in advanced age: Findings from LiLACS NZ

Published online: 
15 December 2016


The report Health, Independence and Caregiving in advanced age: Findings from LiLACS NZ provides research findings from the first four waves (2010–2015) of the Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand – Te Puā waitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu (LiLACS NZ). This study is a population-based sample of people in advanced age living in the Bay of Plenty, who are taking part in a longitudinal study of advanced ageing.

This report provides a picture of changes overtime and a clearer understanding of trajectories of disability, dependency and recovery amongst people in advanced age (80 years and above). The report shows that personal capabilities needed for independence and self-care do not routinely decline over time and that many in the study improved or maintained their abilities. It emphasises the contributions made by people in advanced age, as well as their needs for care and support. It also looks at the considerable impact over time of depression on common health conditions of advanced age.

The report is available on the LiLACS NZ publications website.

Overview of key findings

  • LiLACS NZ participants are mostly independent and living in the community and many stayed at the same level of functioning or even improved over the four years of the study. On the whole, their quality of life remained high as they aged, even for those who declined in health.
  • Support services protected and maintained physical health-related quality of life. Support services were received by 48% of participants in Wave 1 of the study and this increased only slightly by Wave 4. Non-Māori appear to more readily use and may have more ready access to support services.
  • People in advanced age continue to contribute to the welfare of others, while at the same time receiving care and support. Most care received is provided by immediate family members, who are positive about the caring they give even though it impacts on their paid work and may affect their health.
  • Those who receive care and support on average have poorer health and are less independent (as measured by their ability to carry out activities of daily living). Receiving care and support helped participants to maintain health, independence and quality of life. Those in advanced age also give care and assistance to others, continuing to do so as they age. Helping others is associated with higher quality of life.
  • Effective treatments for depression may lead to improved health and less health service use amongst those in advanced age with common chronic physical conditions, as well as lessening the burden of depression itself.

This information, in combination with the other LiLACS reports, will assist the health and social sectors, including iwi and Māori health providers to paint a more complete picture of the health and wellbeing of older Māori. The research findings are useful for planning and providing adequate preventive health care, community support, social care and treatment for illness and disability.

For more information

For information about the LiLACS NZ study, including the other reports, see The LiLACS NZ research programme.

Further information about findings in this report and LiLACS NZ is available on the LiLACS NZ website.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    15 December 2016
  • Citation:
    Kerse N, Lapsley H, Moyes S, Mules R, Edlin R, LiLACS NZ. 2016. Health, Independence and Caregiving in Advanced Age: Findings from LiLACS NZ. Auckland. School of Population Health, The University of Auckland.
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
  • Copyright status:

    Third-party content. Please check the document or email the Web Manager to find out how to obtain permission to re-use content.

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