Assessing Functional Capacity and Factors Determining Functional Decline in the Elderly: A Cross-Sectional Study




Accidental Falls, Activities of Daily Living, Aging, Portugal, Public Health, Risk Factors


Introduction: The aim of this study is to assess functional capacity and determine the factors associated with functional decline in the elderly in adult day care centres and home care support in the County of Coimbra, Portugal.
Material and Methods: Cross-sectional study. A total of 115 participants of both genders, aged between 65 and 98, were enrolled in the home care support and adult day care system of the County of Coimbra, Portugal. Functional capacity was assessed using the Barthel index and the Lawton index. Another questionnaire gathered social, demographic and health status information.
Results: The basic activities of daily living were significantly associated with age, cohabitation, medication usage, falls and multiple morbidity. Analysis of the study’s variables and the instrumental activities of daily living found significant associations between age, institutional affiliation, perceived health status, hospitalizations, medication usage, physical exercise, multiple morbidities, falls, and fall prevention.
Discussion: The results demonstrate that no statistically observable differences were found between gender and functional dependence. A significant association between the Barthel index and cohabitation was also found. We should also highlight that this sample revealed the extremely important role of families in determining the protection of highly dependent older people. Likewise, a significant association was observed between instrumental activities of daily living and levels of physical activity in which greater independence was found in those seniors who practiced physical exercise three or more times per week.
Conclusion: The results of this study allow us to identify factors that may be associated with the functional decline in the elderly. Useful evidence for the adoption of intervention strategies in the elderly population was added, focused on the prevention of functional decline and maintenance of the functional capacities of the elderly.


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Author Biography

Anamélia Oliveira, Faculty of Medicine. University of Coimbra. Coimbra.

AA:ID#11191 Possui graduação em Fonoaudiologia pela Universidade de Fortaleza (2011). Pós graduação em Segurança e Saúde no Trabalho pela Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Coimbra (Portugal), Mestrado em Saúde Pública pela Universidade de Coimbra (Portugal) e Pós-graduada em Gerontologia e Geriatria pela Escola Superior de Saúde de Viseu, atuando principalmente no seguinte tema: saúde pública e envelhecimento.




How to Cite

Oliveira A, Nossa P, Mota-Pinto A. Assessing Functional Capacity and Factors Determining Functional Decline in the Elderly: A Cross-Sectional Study. Acta Med Port [Internet]. 2019 Oct. 1 [cited 2023 Feb. 6];32(10):654-60. Available from: