Objective To test the hypothesis that elderly persons who feel ikigai (a sense of life worth living) have a lower risk of incident functional disability than those who do not. Recent studies have suggested that ikigai impacts on mortality. However, its impact upon disability is unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between ikigai and incident functional disability among elderly persons. Methods We conducted a prospective cohort study of 830 Japanese elderly persons aged ≥ 70 years as a comprehensive geriatric assessment in 2003. Information on ikigai was collected by self-reported questionnaire. Data on functional disability were retrieved from the public Long-term Care Insurance database in which participants were followed up for 12 years. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for incidence of functional disability were calculated for three groups delineated according to the presence of ikigai (“no”, “uncertain” or “yes”) using the Cox proportional hazards regression model. Results The 12-year incidence of functional disability was 53.3% (442 cases). As compared with the “no” group, the multiple-adjusted HR (95% CI) of incident functional disability was 0.61 (0.36–1.02) for the “uncertain” group and 0.50 (0.30–0.84) for the “yes” group. Conclusion A stronger degree of ikigai is significantly associated with a lower risk of incident functional disability.
- Cohort study
- Ikigai (sense of life worth living)