Functional ability among elderly people in three service settings: The discriminatory power of a new functional ability scale

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The purpose is to assess the discriminatory power of the Avlund scales: (1) by assessing the ability of the scales to discriminate between three different populations of elderly people, and (2) by studying groups with a poor fit between use of formal home care and functional ability. The study included (A) all residents in new sheltered housing facilities (response rate 68%, n = 102), (B) a random sample of users of home care (response rate 67%, n = 435), and (C) a random sample of individuals not using home care (response rate 74%, n = 501). All participants were 60+ years old. Data were collected by personal interviews (group A) and by postal questionnaires (group B and C). Functional ability was measured by The Avlund Mob–T scale about tiredness related to mobility and the Mob–H scale about need of help to mobility. Both scales were able to distinguish the three sub-populations. The whole range of the Mob–T scale was used in all three sub- populations, and the whole range of the Mob–H scale was used among the oldest residents and the oldest users of home care. A small group of well-functioning users of home care (n = 52) was characterized by good self-rated health, good hearing, vision and memory abilities; they gave more help to others, had higher social participation, and lived alone (only the women). A somewhat lager group of poor functioning non-users of home care (n = 266) had the opposite characteristics. In addition, they were older, had a poor social network and poor social support.

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