Background: Studies on functional capacity in community-dwelling older people have shown associations between declines in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and several factors. Among these, age has been the most consistently related to functional capacity independent of other variables. We aimed at evaluating the performance of a sample of healthy and cognitively intact Brazilian older people on activities of daily living and to analyze its relation to social-demographic variables.
Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data collected for previous epidemiological studies with community-dwelling subjects aged 60 years or more. We selected subjects who did not have dementia or depression, and with no history of neurological diseases, heart attack, HIV, hepatitis or arthritis (n = 1,111). Functional capacity was assessed using the Brazilian version of the Older American Resources and Services Questionnaire (BOMFAQ). ADL performance was analyzed according to age, gender, education, and marital status (Pearson's χ2, logistic regression).
Results: IADL difficulties were present in our sample, especially in subjects aged 80 years or more, with lower levels of education, or widowed. The logistic regression analysis results indicated that “higher age” and “lower education” (p ≤ 0.001) remained significantly associated with IADL difficulty.
Conclusions: Functional decline was present in older subjects even in the absence of medical conditions and cognitive impairment. Clinicians and researchers could benefit from knowing what to expect from older people regarding IADL performance in the absence of medical conditions.