What is it about?

This paper describes an explicit, cause and effect model of factors known or believed to affect how people maintain or lose functional ability over their lives. This conceptual model is then used to create a simulation in test how changes in physiological factors and psychological factors interact with life stressors, both large and small, translate to the variety of patterns of deterioration over the life course seen in real life.

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Why is it important?

This work provides a more explicit approach to the development and testing of hypotheses about what determines our ability to function over time, and suggests multiple points at which we can intervene to optimize that trajectory. This complements efforts, such as those by the WHO and geriatricians/gerontologists to articulate a framework for promoting successful ageing.


This paper is intended to provide a seed for further development of interventions to improve functional ability over the life course, promoting more coherent efforts across disciplines and amongst stakeholders such as government and civil society to address the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society.

Dr David Bruce Matchar
Duke University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Trajectories of functional ability over the life course: a conceptual model of the interaction of stressor‐induced functional loss and resilience, System Dynamics Review, October 2018, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/sdr.1611.
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