Objective: To describe functional ability of elderly persons with diabetes (DM) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and to describe associations between functional ability and glucose tolerance.
Design: A survey among an unselected non-institutionalized elderly population. Diabetes was assessed on the basis of self-reports and 2-h oral glucose tolerance tests. Functional ability was assessed in interviews by four items on mobility, five items on activities of daily living, and four items on instrumental activities of daily living.
Setting: Three municipalities in northern Finland.
Subjects: All non-institutionalized persons aged 70 years or over (n = 483; 180 men). The participation rate was 79%.
Main outcome measures: Mobility, activities of daily living, and instrumental activities of daily living.
Results: The functional ability of the diabetic persons was poorer than that of the non-diabetic persons. The subjects with IGT also graded their functional ability as somewhat poorer than the non-diabetic subjects. When adjusted for age, gender, history of cardiovascular disease or stroke, these associations became weaker.
Conclusions: Impaired functional ability is associated not only with diabetes but also with IGT in the elderly, but, in addition to age, cardio- and/or cerebrovascular disease is the best predictor of decreased functional ability in the elderly.