Cumulative effects of cognitive impairment and frailty on functional decline, falls and hospitalization: A four-year follow-up study with older adults

Allan Gustavo Brigola, Ana Carolina Ottaviani, Tiago da Silva Alexandre, Bruna Moretti Luchesi, Sofia Cristina Iost Pavarini

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Objective Evaluate the cumulative effects of cognitive impairment and frailty on functional decline, falls and hospitalization in older adults over a four-year period. Method Four hundred five older adults (60–95 years; mean age: 70.62 ± 7.12 years), 57 % female. The frailty evaluation was performed using the clinical criteria of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS): weight loss, fatigue, weakness, slowness and low physical activity. Cognitive impairment was defined by cutoff scores of the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) based on schooling. Follow-up – functional decline was assessed using the Lawton&Brody scale of instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). An investigation was also performed of the occurrence of falls and admissions to the hospital in the previous twelve months. Results Cognitive impairment was associated with admissions to the hospital and declines in the IADL category of using a telephone. Frailty was associated with admissions to hospital. Cumulative effects were observed for hospitalization and the decline in using the telephone and shopping. Frailty and cognitive impairment increased the risk of being admitted to hospital by 557 % and increased the risk of a decline in using the phone by 262% and shopping by 208%. No conditions were associated with the risk of falls. Conclusion The combination of the MMSE and the CHS criteria was adequate for measuring the cumulative effects of cognitive impairment and frailty. Shared physiological mechanisms may explain the relation between cognitive impairment and frailty, but further investigations are needed in Brazil and other low/middle-income countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104005
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Activity of daily living
  • Cognition
  • Falls
  • Frailty
  • Hospitalization
  • Risk factors

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