Disclosures: Patel reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
June 09, 2020
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Dementia, visual impairment may inhibit activity in older adults

Disclosures: Patel reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Older adults with dementia and self-reported visual impairment may experience limits in their activities, according to a cross-sectional analysis published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

“This study demonstrated in a national sample of older U.S. adults that dementia and self-reported [visual impairment] were independently associated with decreased mobility, self-care and household activity function,” Nish Patel, BA, of the University of Michigan Medical School and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Fla., and colleagues wrote.

Data from 7,124 U.S. Medicare beneficiaries (65 years or older) who completed the National Health and Aging Trends Study in 2015 were used in this study. Respondents’ self-reported visual impairment included being blind, not being able to see across the street or read the newspaper print.

The total proportion of participants with self-reported visual impairment was 8.6%. Additionally, 8.3% had possible dementia, and 6.3% had probable dementia. Participants with self-reported visual impairment had lower function scores in all three activity scales compared with those without.

In older participants without dementia, self-reported visual impairment was associated with a 14.7% decrease in mobility score, 9.5% decrease in self-care score and 15.2% decrease in household activity score. Probable dementia in participants was associated with expected decreases of 27.8% in mobility score, 22.9% in self-care score and 34.7% in household activity score. Possible dementia and self-reported visual impairment in participants were associated with expected decreases of 25.6% in mobility score, 19.3% in self-care score and 33.1% in household activity score.

According to the researchers, the results from this study are nationally representative of the Medicare-eligible population in the U.S. showing an association between dementia and self-reported visual impairment that causes declines in all three activity scores.

“Findings from this study may be relevant to designing and implementing clinical and public health interventions to promote independence and optimal aging for a rapidly growing population of older U.S. adults,” the researchers wrote.