The proportion of their life that Scottish men and women can expect to spend feeling fit after the age of 65 has dropped, while the ratio of healthy life for older people in other parts of the UK has either seen no change or increased.
Separate findings in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) research show the health of Scottish men is now failing in their late-50s rather than their early-60s.
Older women also appear to be ailing earlier north of the Border, while across England and Wales people are spending more of their lives in good health.
The ONS warns: "These findings indicate Scotland and Northern Ireland may face proportionally greater future demands on health services than England and Wales."
Age Scotland said the findings were shocking and a "wake-up call to Government about its programme to improve public health".
Callum Chomczuk, senior policy officer for the charity, said: "It is concerning that instead of increasing healthy life expectancy we are backsliding on previous progress made.
"Apart from the increasing health costs, which are significant, decreasing healthy life expectancy risks continued unwanted economic and social consequences among society at large, particularly in some of the most deprived communities."
Life expectancy and the health of the population have long been poorer in Scotland than the rest of the UK. However, all areas shared a problem – people were living longer but were not necessarily healthy for longer.
Yesterday's ONS data, which compared findings from 2005/07 with results from 2008/10, showed English men on average enjoying good health beyond the age of 64, up from 61.6. Healthy life expectancy for Scottish men had dropped from 61.2 to 59.8.
Scottish women, while behind their English counterparts at 66, had seen an extension of healthy years to 64.1.
Researchers also analysed the proportion of life people could expect to spend feeling fit after the age of 65. The ONS report says: "In terms of the proportion of life spent in very good or good health (from the age of 65), the trend for Scotland was particularly striking, with a decline of more than four percentage points for females and more than 10 percentage points for males."
Among Scottish men this proportion of healthy older life had dropped from 62% to 52% and among Scottish women it fell from 60% to 56%. For England the result for men changed little between 2005/07 and 2008/10 while it improved for women.
Answers to official Government health surveys were used to calculate the findings.
Asked why the health of Scotland's pensioners was falling behind, Michael Smith, senior research officer for ONS, said: "We do not have the information to say why that might be. Lifestyle factors influence people's reporting of health but there may also be other factors, such as employment rates, that affect how males and females think about their health."
David Walsh, public health programme manager for the Glasgow Centre for Population Health – which is researching Scotland's health problems – said there appeared to be very little change in healthy life expectancy in Scotland between the turn of the millennium and now. He suggested this was a more reliable picture of the situation.
An investigation into the reasons for Scotland's poor health, which are thought to go beyond higher rates of deprivation, smoking, drinking and obesity, is under way. Mr Walsh added: "It is not going to be one factor, it is going to be a combination of different factors which impact over a lifetime."
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Health in Scotland is improving but not quickly enough and unacceptable inequalities continue to blight the lives of our most deprived communities.
"The removal of health inequalities will not be achieved overnight but we have already taken significant action to address alcohol consumption, prevent people from smoking, encourage active living and healthy eating and promote positive mental health."
The Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities has shifted the emphasis of the Scottish Government's approach towards tackling underlying causes of poor health such as poverty and unemployment and improving the environment.