Cognitive and physical demands of activities of daily living in older adults: Validation of expert panel ratings

The Successful Aging after Elective Surgery Functional Measures Working Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Difficulties with performance of functional activities may result from cognitive and/or physical impairments. To date, there has not been a clear delineation of the physical and cognitive demands of activities of daily living. Objectives: To quantify the relative physical and cognitive demands required to complete typical functional activities in older adults. Design: Expert panel survey. Setting: Web-based platform. Participants: Eleven experts from 8 academic medical centers and 300 community-dwelling elderly adults age 70 and older scheduled for elective noncardiac surgery from 2 academic medical centers. Methods: Sum scores of expert ratings were calculated and then validated against objective data collected from a prospective longitudinal study. Main Outcome Measurements: Correlation between expert ratings and objective neuropsychologic tests (memory, language, complex attention) and physical measures (gait speed and grip strength) for performance-based tasks. Results: Managing money, self-administering medications, using the telephone, and preparing meals were rated as requiring significantly more cognitive demand, whereas walking and transferring, moderately strenuous activities, and climbing stairs were assessed as more physically demanding. Largely cognitive activities correlated with objective neuropsychologic performance (r = 0.13-0.23, P < .05) and largely physical activities correlated with physical performance (r = 0.15-0.46, P < .05). Conclusions: Quantifying the degree of cognitive and/or physical demand for completing a specific task adds an additional dimension to standard measures of functional assessment. This additional information may significantly influence decisions about rehabilitation, postacute care needs, treatment plans, and caregiver education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-735
Number of pages9
JournalPM and R
Volume7
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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