Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA)

Also visit the official Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam site.

Objectives

LASA (Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam) is an interdisciplinary, longitudinal study on daily functioning and well-being of older persons (55+) and covers a period of over sixteen years as of 2009. Its broad database covers physical, cognitive, emotional, social functioning and use of care. Although basically scientific in nature, the study provides a basis for developing and evaluating social and health care policies at the local and national levels that are intended to enhance older persons’ autonomy, social integration, and quality of life. Longitudinal data can prospectively measure the effects of existing policies, test the assumptions underlying policymakers’ considerations, and suggest new policy aims. LASA is primarily an observational study – it does not include intervention studies – and its database can be used to test various specific hypotheses.

Collaborations

LASA is based in the Departments of Psychiatry and of Epidemiology & Biostatistics of the  VU Medical Center as well as in three faculties of the VU University, Social Sciences, Earth and Life Sciences and Psychology and Education. LASA forms a part of the infrastructure of the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+).
There are several external collaborative agreements with other institutions in the Netherlands e.g.: the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, the University of Maastricht Department of Medical Sociology, Statistics Netherlands, the National Institute of Public Health and Environment and the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau.

International collaboration includes the intramural Epidemiology, Demography, and Biostatistics programme of the US National Institute on Aging, the University of Pittsburg, Wake Forest University and Oregon State University (all USA), the Universities of Jyväskylä and Tampere (Finland), the Ageing Research Centre of the Karolinksa Institute (Sweden), the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter, and Sheffield (UK), and the German Centre for Aging Research in Berlin and the Universities of Saarlans and Heidelberg (Germany). Furthermore, LASA has taken part in several European and worldwide consortia: the European Concerted Action on Depression (EURODEP), Socio-Economic Determinants of Healthy Aging (SEdHA), and the Comparison of Longitudinal European Studies on Aging (CLESA), the Emerging Risk Factor Collaboration and the Integrative Analysis of Longitudinal Studies on Aging. The close collaboration between scientists of various disciplines and prominent professionals is characteristic of both the design and the execution of the study.

Results

Mental
In September 2008 Marijke Bremmer has defended her dissertation “Late life depression and cardiac diseases; biological underpinnings in a population based sample”. She aimed to find an explanation for the excess cardiac risk associated with depression, and published her findings in several international journals. In addition, Witte Hoogendijk et al. reported results from LASA in the Archives of General Psychiatry. They showed that depression status and severity was associated with decreased serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and increased serum levels of the parathyroid hormone.

Van den Kommer et al. developed two classification models for early identification of persons at risk for dementia. These models lead to a substantial increase of the predictive value for persistent cognitive decline, that is from 4.0 % to 43.5 % and 30.0 %. In addition, Bierman et al. investigated the association between anxiety and cognitive decline. The results showed that mild anxiety was associated with better cognitive functioning, whereas severe anxiety was associated with worse cognitive functioning. Anxiety was not predictive of cognitive decline in the subsequent years.

Physical
In 2008 two reports were produced on behalf of the Ministry on Health, Welfare and Sports. The report by G.M.M.E. Peeters et al. on validating screeningintruments for identification of fallers shows that a simplified fall-decision tree could be very useful for GP’s to identify older people who are at risk to fall again.

The report on malnutrition in older persons by M. Visser and colleagues shows that the prevalence of malnutrition in older persons still living at home is substantial, which warrants screening for malnutrition in high risk persons.
Several high impact papers on genetic markers of osteoporosis were published as a result of the LASA collaboration with several European research groups in the GENOMOS study.

At the meeting of the Netherlands’ Gerontological Society a symposium was organized on obesity in old age with two contributions from the LASA study.

An intriguing report in the Netherlands Journal of Gerontology & Geriatrics shows that older men and women aged 55-65 y in 2002/03 perceive their own health better compared to older persons of the same age who were born ten years earlier, despite having a poorer objective health. Several publications on sex hormones, cortisol and inflammation have provided further understanding of the pathophysiology of age-related loss of bone, muscle and physical function.

Contact information

Prof. Dr. Dorly Deeg djh.deeg@vumc.nl