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To investigate the associations between medication use and functional dependence in Chinese older people living in a rural community.The cross-sectional study included 1538 participants (age ≥60 years, 59.1% women) in the Confucius Hometown Aging Project in Shandong, China. In June 2010 to July 2011, data on demographics, lifestyle factors, health history, basic activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental ADL, and use of medications were collected through interviews and clinical examinations. Functional status was categorized into no dependence, dependence only in instrumental ADL and dependence in basic ADL. Data were analyzed with multinomial logistic models controlling for potential confounders.Dependence in instrumental or basic ADL was significantly associated with use of antihypertensives and hypolipidemic agents, and basic ADL dependence was also associated with use of sedatives or tranquilizers and cardiac glycosides. An increased number of concurrently used medications was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of dependence in basic ADL (P for trend = 0.016). Compared with non-users of any medication, individuals who concurrently used three or more classes of medications had a multi-adjusted odds ratio of 2.91 (95% confidence interval 1.02–8.28) for dependence in basic ADL.Use of antihypertensives, hypolipidemic drugs, cardiac glycosides and sedatives or tranquilizers, especially use of multiple classes of medications, is correlated with functional dependence among older people in rural China. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2015; 15: 1242–1248.