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BMC Geriatr. 2018 Jun 4;18(1):132. doi: 10.1186/s12877-018-0830-3.

Association between stairs in the home and instrumental activities of daily living among community-dwelling older adults.

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Nara Prefectural Health Research Center, Nara Medical University, Shijo-cho 840, Kashihara City, Nara, 634-8521, Japan.
Nara Prefectural Health Research Center, Nara Medical University, Shijo-cho 840, Kashihara City, Nara, 634-8521, Japan.



There is insufficient evidence regarding the relationship of home environment with functional capacity among community-dwelling older people without disabilities. We conducted a population-based longitudinal cohort study and examined whether stairs in the home were associated with capability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) in community-dwelling high-functioning older adults.


The target population was individuals aged 65 years or older living in two municipalities in Nara Prefecture in Japan. At the baseline survey, residents who were independent in IADL (n = 6722) were included as survey subjects. Subjects were divided into three groups according to their home type; one-storey residences, walk-up residences, or residences with an elevator. IADL was evaluated using the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology Index of Competence. Multiple logistic regression analyses stratified by gender were used to calculate the odds ratio (OR) and a 95% confidence interval (CI) for a decline in IADL, with one-storey residences as a reference. Age, studied area, marital status, working status, self-perceived economic status, body mass index, chronic diseases, smoking, drinking, eating habits, basic activities of daily living, cognitive functioning, depression, self-rated health, and social participation were used as covariates.


During the 3-year follow-up, 11.6% of the subjects showed a decline in IADL. After adjusting for covariates, women who lived in walk-up residences had a lower risk for IADL decline (adjusted OR = 0.72, 95% CI = 0.52-0.99), while living in a home with an elevator was not associated with IADL decline (adjusted OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.49-1.77). In contrast, there was no association between home type and IADL decline in men (walk-up residences, adjusted OR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.71-1.14; residences with an elevator, adjusted OR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.39-1.72).


The presence of stairs in the home was associated with prevention of IADL decline over a 3-year period in older women without disabilities. Although a barrier-free house is recommended for older people, our findings indicate that a home with stairs may maintain the capability to perform IADL among older adults without disabilities.


Home type; Instrumental activities of daily living; Older people; Stairs; Successful aging

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