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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004 Jul;59(7):755-61.

The deleterious effects of bed rest among community-living older persons.

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Yale University School of Medicine, Dorothy Adler Geriatric Assessment Center, 20 York Street, New Haven, CT 06504, USA.



Older persons often "take to bed" while they are ill or injured, but relatively little is known about the functional consequences of bed rest among community-living older persons. In this prospective cohort study, the association between episodes of bed rest and functional decline was evaluated during an 18-month period.


Participants included 680 nondisabled, community-living persons aged 70 years or older. They were separated into 2 groups according to the presence or absence of physical frailty, which was defined based on slow gait speed. Episodes of bed rest were ascertained each month in a telephone interview for a median of 18 months. The completion rate was 99.1%. Functional decline was defined as a worsening in scores between the baseline and 18-month follow-up assessments in 1 or more of the following measures: instrumental activities of daily living, mobility, physical activity, and social activity.


Among the 404 (59.4%) participants who had at least 1 episode of bed rest, the mean number of months with bed rest was 2.8 (standard deviation, 2.4). After adjustments were made for several potential confounders, the number of months with bed rest was significantly associated with decline in each of the functional measures. Significant associations were also observed for each of the functional outcomes among participants who were not physically frail, but they were observed only for instrumental activities of daily living disability among participants who were physically frail.


These findings indicate that episodes of bed rest among community-living older persons are associated with decline in several important indicators of function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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