Background: the issue of safety of the cognitively impaired elderly people living alone has been continuously raised. Traditional psychometric measures of cognitive abilities may not adequately reflect older adults' functioning in a real everyday context.
Objectives: to conduct a systematic review on instruments available for evaluating the everyday problem-solving or everyday competence of the elderly with cognitive impairment and to critically review the measurement properties of the identified instruments.
Methods: we searched the databases such as Cinahl, Medline, PsycINFO, AARP Ageline, ProQuest and the Cochrane Library for the time period between January 1995 and December 2010. Reference lists of the included papers were also manually searched.
Results: five instruments were included. All the instruments focused their framework on Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) domains which meet well with suggestions from other studies on the importance of IADL in determining an elderly individual's capability to live independently in the community. No available instruments for the moderate to severe impairment group were identified under this review.
Conclusions: few existing instruments to assess the ability of everyday problem-solving of the elderly with cognitive impairment can be identified in the literature. Further research validating them against functional, real-world outcomes is needed.