About Half of Elderly Patients Miscalculate How Long They’ll Live
Nearly half of elderly adults miscalculate how long they will live, and that may cause some not to make the best medical decisions, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
While patients have a general sense of how long they might live, it often isn’t very accuarate, the research found, and this can influence how they weigh the pros and cons of discussions they have with their doctors about treatments or taking preventive measures.
The researchers surveyed 2,000 elderly adults, and had them predict their odds of living at least another 10 years, then compared their responses with an objective analysis from doctors. They found that about 55 percent of people made estimates similar to the doctors’ objective analysis.
But 33 percent of them underestimated how long they might live and 12 percent overestimated their probable longevity.
Unrealistic expectations may make patients less likely to follow recommended treatments or change long-standing habits, according to the researchers.
The findings suggest that it’s important for doctors and patients to regularly talk about life expectancy when it comes to choosing a specific treatment or preventive measure.