Population-Based Screening for Functional Disability in Older Adults

Claire K. Ankuda, Vicki A. Freedman, Kenneth E. Covinsky, Amy S. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Screening for functional disability is a promising strategy to identify high-need older adults. We compare 2 disability measures, activities of daily living (ADLs), and life space constriction (LSC), in predicting hospitalization and mortality in older adults. Research Design and Methods: We used the nationally representative National Health and Aging Trends Study of 30,885 observations of adults aged 65 years and older. Outcomes were 1-year mortality and hospitalization. Predictors were ADLs (receiving help with bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, getting out of bed, walking inside) and LSC (frequency of leaving home). Results: Of respondents, 12.4% reported 3 or more ADLs and 10.8% reported rarely/never leaving home. ADL disability and LSC predicted high rates of 1-year mortality and hospitalization: of those with 3 or more ADLs, 46.4% died and 41.0% were hospitalized; of those who never/rarely left home, 40.7% died and 37.0% were hospitalized. Of those with both 3 or more ADLs and who never/rarely left home, 58.4% died. ADL and LSC disability combined was more predictive of 1-year mortality and hospitalization than either measure alone. ADL disability and LSC screens identified overlapping but distinct populations. LSC identified more women (72.6% vs 63.8% with ADL disability), more people who live alone (40.7% vs 30.7%), fewer who were White (71.7% vs 76.2%) with cancer (27.6% vs 32.4), and reported pain (67.1% vs 70.0%). Discussion and Implications: LSC and ADLs both independently predicted mortality and hospitalization but using both screens was most predictive. Routine screening for ADLs and LSC could help health systems identify those at high risk for mortality and health care use.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberigaa065
JournalInnovation in Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Aging
  • Functional assessment
  • Health services research
  • Public health


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