100-year-old persons in Germany are affected by substantial numbers of illnesses, and the frequency of untreated pain in this cohort is alarming. This is the result reported by Daniela Jopp and colleagues in their evaluation of the findings of the Second Heidelberg Centenarian Study in this issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztbl Int; 2016; 113: 203-10).
Centenarians have long been discussed as models of successful aging. However, studies from all over the world have shown that persons aged 100 are often affected by several comorbidities and functional impairments. Daniela S Jopp's group of authors surveyed 112 persons--or those close to them--about their current and chronic illnesses and pain. Many of those surveyed had several comorbidities, up to an average of five simultaneously. The most common disorders were impaired vision and hearing, skeletal disorders, and impaired mobility. More than one-third of those aged 100 complained of frequent pain, and more than 40% of this group reported unbearable pain. According to the authors, the study's conclusion is that options exist for improving quality of life even in those who were 100 years old, by improving analgesia, for example, or strengthening mobility and gait stability by means of various therapies.