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Aging Clin Exp Res. 2012 Feb;24(1):56-61.

Prevalence, correlates and perceived causes of limitations in activities of daily living among older Singaporeans.

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Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, Singapore.



To describe the prevalence of limitations in Activities of Daily Living (ADL) among older Singaporeans, examine the association of ADL limitations with various self-reported health conditions, assess perceived causes of ADL limitations, and compare prevalence of health conditions among those who perceive only 'old age' vs those who perceive at least one specific health condition as the cause of their limitations.


Data from a national survey of Singaporeans 60 years and over was used. The association between ADL limitations and health conditions was assessed through logistic regression. Those with ADL limitations were asked about the perceived cause/s of their limitation/ s. Any significant difference in the prevalence of health conditions between those attributing their ADL limitations only to old age and those attributing to at least one specific health condition was ascertained.


Overall prevalence of ADL limitations was 9.7%. Joint/nerve pain, stroke, pelvic/femoral fractures, heart diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic respiratory illness and renal/urinary tract illness were significantly associated with ADL limitations, and the most common perceived cause was 'old age' (33%). The prevalence of most health conditions was similar in older adults attributing their limitations to only 'old age' and to at least one specific health condition.


Clinical suspicion is called for if individuals with ADL limitations attribute them solely to 'old age'.

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