Background: This study investigates discrepancies between the confidence expressed by Korean elders in their balance and their actual physical performances according to sex and age. It also attempts to identify the factors responsible for such gaps or discrepancies.
Methods: The Korean Longitudinal Study on Health and Aging (KLoSHA) was designed as a population-based prospective cohort study on the health and aging of Korean adults aged 65 years and over. We evaluated 1000 of 1118 randomly selected subjects in terms of activities-specific balance confidence (ABC) and performance in regard to balance and gait (POMA). Activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) were assessed to measure disability. Pain-related dysfunctions, depression and cognitive functions were assessed. Next, we assessed the relationship between balance confidence and physical performance and functioning by sex and age.
Results: The balance confidence of elderly women was lower than that of elderly men, although the physical performances of men and women under the age of 80 were similar. Women showed increased functional disability related to lower extremity pain and closely associated with balance confidence. However, psychological variables such as depression and cognitive functioning did not affect balance confidence.
Conclusion: We found a discrepancy between balance confidence and physical performance according to sex and age among Koreans elders. Low balance confidence among women elders was correlated with pain-related dysfunctions other than those reflected in POMA scores. Therefore, enhancing confidence and controlling pain as a means of preventing disability should be emphasized when developing models for maintaining and promoting health in elders.