Objective: To determine the factors associated with impaired function in older women.
Design: Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data collected for a multicenter, prospective study of risk factors for osteoporotic fractures.
Setting: Four clinical centers in Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Monongahela Valley, Pennsylvania.
Participants: A total of 9,704 ambulatory, non-black women, aged 65 years and older, recruited from population-based listings.
Measurements: Independent variables, including demographic and historical information (medical conditions, health habits, and medications) and physiologic measures (anthropometry, blood pressure, mental status, vision, and neuromuscular performance) were obtained from a baseline questionnaire, interview, and examination. Measurement of function was assessed by self-reported ability to perform six physical and instrumental activities of daily living (ADL) and impaired function (dependent variable) was defined as difficulty performing three or more physical and instrumental ADLs.
Results: In order of decreasing strength of association, hip fracture, osteoarthritis, parkinsonism, slower walking speed, lower hip abduction force, back pain, greater Quetelet index, osteoporosis, former alcohol use, stroke, never drinking alcohol, lower mental status, use of anxiolytics and/or sleeping medications, inability to hold the tandem position, postural dizziness, cataracts, greater waist to hip ratio, lower physical activity in the past year, greater lifetime cigarette consumption, and lower grip strength were independently associated with impaired function in multivariate analyses. Age, low educational level, diabetes, current heavy alcohol use, postural hypotension, depth perception, and contrast sensitivity were not independent predictors. A combination of neuromuscular performance measures, including decreased muscle strength and impaired balance and gait, appeared to account for the effect of age on disability.
Conclusion: A combination of many factors, including medical conditions, health habits such as obesity, smoking, alcohol abstinence, and physical inactivity, and direct measures of neuromuscular performance are associated with impaired function in older women.