Functional Performance in Community Living Older Adults

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Routinely, physical therapists use a variety of physical performance tests to determine functional status of older adults. Whereas many commonly used instruments have been evaluated for some aspects of reliability and validity, few studies report typical performance for community living older adults, especially those who are 80 years and older and use an assistive ambulatory device. The aim of this study was to determine reference values of 7 functional tests for older adults by decade of age, gender, and assistive device use.


Seventy-six older adults (age 66–101 years) participated in functional assessment clinics that included measures of comfortable gait speed, fast gait speed, Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up and Go, timed sit to stand, 6 minute walk, and Physical Performance Test.


For each functional test administered, means, standard deviations, and confidence intervals are presented by age, gender, and assistive device use. Regression analyses suggest that age and assistive device use are important factors in performance on functional tests.


This study reports typical functional status of community living older adults. Such information may be useful in describing functional limitations and monitoring change in physical performance of older adults.

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