Poor habits linked to disability in seniors
An unhealthy lifestyle, characterised by physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and smoking, is associated with a greater hazard of disability” in individuals more than 65 years old, and the risk increases progressively with each additional unhealthy behavior, according to a new study.
For instance, the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, poor cognitive function, stroke, sudden cardiac death and mortality increases with the number of unhealthy behaviours.
Researchers from France and the UK carried out a study to investigate the relationship between unhealthy behaviours and the risk of disability over a 12-year period.
They used data from the Three-City (3C) Dijon cohort study.
Between 1999 and 2001, the study included community-dwelling older people (more than 65 years old) from the city of Dijon (France); participants were interviewed at that time about their lifestyle, including information on smoking, diet, physical activity, and alcohol drinking. They were then followed for the incidence of disability over 12 years.
Three levels of disability were assessed: mobility, instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and basic activities of daily living (ADL).
Mobility assessed the ability to do heavy work around the house, walk half a mile, and climb stairs.
IADLs included the ability to use a telephone, manage medications and money, use public or private transport, and do shopping, and, additionally for women, to prepare meals and do housework and laundry.
ADLs included bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring from bed to chair and eating. Participants were considered disabled if they could not perform at least one activity without any given level of help.
Low or intermediate physical activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables less than once a day, smoking (current or having quit smoking less than 15 years ago), and no (abstention or former) or heavy consumption of alcohol were all considered as unhealthy behaviours.
Characteristics were also identified that may influence the relation between unhealthy behaviours and disability such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, high BMI and cancer.