Sensory and cognitive factors influencing functional ability in older adults

Academic Article


  • Background: Age-related sensory and cognitive impairments have been related to functional performance in older adults. With regard to cognitive abilities, processing speed in particular may be strongly related to older adults' abilities to perform everyday tasks. Identifying and comparing cognitive correlates of functional performance is particularly important in order to design interventions to promote independence and prevent functional disability. Objective: The present study examined the relative importance of cognitive (specifically, speeded and nonspeeded) and sensory factors in relation to older adults' functional abilities. Functional abilities included measures of mobility and performance of everyday activities. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was employed. Five hundred and thirty adults between the ages of 62 and 94 completed measures of sensory, cognitive (including processing speed, attention, memory, intelligence) and functional abilities. Results: Overall, functional performance was most strongly associated with cognitive speed performance, but nonspeeded cognitive and sensory abilities also accounted for significant amounts of variance in functional performance. Age explained a small but statistically significant amount of additional variance in some functional abilities, but no additional variance in self-reported mobility measures. Conclusion: These findings point to the potential impact of multifaceted training programs, targeting both sensory and cognitive abilities for maintaining functional abilities. Copyright © 2005 S. Karger AG.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wood KM; Edwards JD; Clay OJ; Wadley VG; Roenker DL; Ball KK
  • Start Page

  • 131
  • End Page

  • 141
  • Volume

  • 51
  • Issue

  • 2