Prevalence of cognitive impairment in home health physical therapy

Matthew J. Miller, Irena Cenzer, Deborah E. Barnes, Claire K. Ankuda, Kenneth E. Covinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The prevalence of cognitive impairment in home health physical therapy (HHPT) is unknown. We sought to identify the prevalence of cognitive impairment, including cognitive impairment no dementia (CIND) and dementia, among older adults who used HHPT, and if cognitive impairment prevalence was higher among those with HHPT-relevant characteristics. Methods: For our cross-sectional analysis, we identified 963 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with HHPT claims (>85 years old: 28.8%, women: 63.7%, non-Hispanic White: 82.1%) in the 2014 and 2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and used a validated algorithm to categorize cognitive status as normal, CIND, or dementia. We estimated the population prevalence and calculated age, gender, race/ethnicity adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of CIND and dementia for characteristics relevant to HHPT service delivery including depression, walking difficulty, fall history, incontinence, moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) ≤1x/week, and community-initiated HHPT using multinomial logistic regression. Results: The population prevalence of cognitive impairment was 46.4% (CIND: 27.3%, dementia: 19.1%). The prevalence of cognitive impairment was greater among those with depression (46.7% vs. 39.5%), difficulty walking across the room (58.9% vs. 41.8%), fall history (49.1% vs. 42.9%), MVPA ≤1x/week (50.0% vs. 38.0%), and community-initiated HHPT (55.2% vs. 40.2%). Compared to normal cognitive status, the odds of cognitive impairment were greater for those with MVPA≤1x/week (CIND: aOR = 1.57 [95% CI: 1.05–2.33], dementia: aOR = 2.55 [95% CI: 1.54–4.22]), depression (dementia: aOR = 1.99 [95% CI: 1.19–3.30]), difficulty walking across the room (dementia: aOR = 2.54 [95% CI: 1.40–4.60]), fall history (dementia: aOR = 1.85 [95% CI: 1.20–2.83]), and community-initiated HHPT (dementia: aOR = 1.72 (95% CI: 1.13–2.61]). Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of CIND and dementia in HHPT, and no characteristics had a low prevalence of cognitive impairment. Physical therapists should be ready to identify cognitive impairment and adapt home health service delivery for this vulnerable population of older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-810
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • home health
  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation


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