The Association between Different Levels of Alcohol Use and Gait under Single and Dual Task in Community-Dwelling Older Persons Aged 65 to 70 Years

Curr Gerontol Geriatr Res. 2016;2016:2018507. doi: 10.1155/2016/2018507. Epub 2016 Jul 19.


Objectives. This study aimed to describe the cross-sectional and longitudinal association between alcohol intake and gait parameters in older persons. Methods. Community-dwelling persons aged 65-70 years (N = 807). Information on health, functional status, and alcohol use was self-reported at baseline and at 3-year follow-up, whereas gait speed and stride-to-stride variability were measured while walking only (single task) and under dual tasking (counting backwards). Results. Compared to light-to-moderate drinking, heavy drinking was associated with slower gait speed in single task (adj. coeff.: -.040, 95% CI: -.0.78 to -.002, p = .035). No significant association was observed between heavy drinking and gait speed variability. Nondrinkers walked significantly slower than light-to-moderate drinkers in dual task and had significantly higher gait speed variability in both single and dual task, but these associations disappeared after adjustment for comorbidity. At follow-up, 35.2% and 34.1% of the participants walked significantly slower in single and dual task, respectively. This proportion varied a little across drinking categories. Conclusion. At baseline, heavy alcohol consumption was significantly associated with slower gait speed in single task. Selective survival of the fittest heavy drinkers probably explains why this association faded in longitudinal analyses. The trend of poorer gait performance in nondrinkers disappeared after adjustment for comorbidity, suggesting confounding by a worse health status.