Restricted Activity among Older People Living in the Community. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:S33. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-5-200109040-00003
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2001;135(5):S33.
Older people sometimes restrict their activities because of health problems. Little is known, however, about how frequently this happens or what causes it to happen, or whether decreased activity is associated with an increase in the use of health care services.
To understand better how frequently older people decrease their usual activities because of health problems, and which health problems cause this to happen.
The study included 754 members of a large health plan in Connecticut who were 70 years of age or older and able to care for themselves without assistance (no disability).
At the beginning of the study, nurses collected information from study patients about age, medical problems, mental abilities, and walking speed. Using this information, the researchers decided whether people were at low, medium, or high risk for future disability. The researchers then called patients monthly for an average of 15 months and asked them two questions: 1) “Since we last talked, have you stayed in bed for at least half a day due to illness, injury, or other problem?” and 2) “Since we last talked, have you cut down on your usual activities due to an illness, injury, or other problem?” If patients answered “yes” to either question, the researchers asked whether they had experienced any of 24 specific problems since the last interview and whether any of these problems caused the decreased activity.
Over three quarters of the study patients reported either having to stay in bed or cut down on usual activities during at least one month of the study. Not surprisingly, rates of restricted activity were lowest in people at low risk and highest in those at high risk for disability, but even those at low risk reported some activity restrictions. On average, patients identified 4 to 5 different problems as causes of each episode of restricted activity, most commonly fatigue, joint or back stiffness, dizziness, cold or flu symptoms, difficulty breathing, and being afraid of falling. Health care use was higher during periods of restricted activity than periods of usual activity, but many older people with restricted activity did not seek care.
This study does not tell us the frequency of these health problems among people whose activity did not decrease.
Older people living in the community frequently decrease their usual activities regardless of their risk for disability, and they usually report several health-related problems as the reason. Further research should evaluate the consequences of activity restrictions and ways to reduce the frequency of such restrictions.
The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.
Results provided by:
Copyright © 2016 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only