Background: Disability measures among elderly non-Hispanic White populations have traditionally been associated with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). More recently, performance-based measures have increasingly been used to predict the onset of disability in initially nondisabled elderly populations.
Methods: We used data from two waves (1993-94 and 1995-96) of the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) to assess the degree with which lower mobility performance measures predict future disability in a representative sample of older Mexican Americans from the Southwestern United States.
Results: Performances on an 8-foot walk, repeated chair stands, and standing balance among nondisabled subjects at baseline were significantly associated with the onset of ADL and lower body disability 2 years later, controlling for age, gender, and the presence of medical conditions. The results were significant for each performance measure and for a measure combining all three.
Conclusion: This study offers further evidence that performance-based measures of lower body function are able to predict future disability in older Mexican Americans, as has been found with other elderly populations. These measures were able to detect changes over a relatively short period of time (2 years). In addition, the study found that the short (8-foot) walk was the most sensitive measure in predicting future disability.