Risk Factors that Increase the Risk of Disability in Older Adults

Disability not only is associated with major adverse health outcomes, it makes an older adult require support due to challenges or dependency in performing activities essential to maintaining an independent lifestyle.  The proportion of disabled older adults is a critical determinant of a society’s capability to overcome the problems of population aging.  Dementia is often prevalent among older adults with disability and causes severe impairment.  Critical risk factors that are association with disability are cognitive impairment and losses in mobility. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a potential risk for disability.  The co-occurrence of slow walking speed and MCI may heighten this risk.

A recent study that consisted of 3,482 older adult participants without disability at baseline examined the association between MCI and disability, and sought to find out whether co-occurrence of MCI and slow walking speed increased the risk of disability in older adults.

During follow-up, 134 participants became disabled. The proportions of incident disability were higher in the MCU with slow walking speed, MCI, and slow walking speed groups, compared with the control group. The study found that the co-occurrence of slow walking speed and MCI in a variety of domains has a higher risk of disability than each condition by itself.