Alcohol use and functional disability among cognitively impaired adults.
Aged, 80 and over
Mental Status Schedule
Severity of Illness Index
Activities of Daily Living
The extent to which alcohol exposure increases risk for functional disability among older adults with cognitive impairment has not previously been assessed.
To examine the potential relationship between alcohol use and functional disability among older cognitively impaired adults.
Retrospective medical record review.
Hospital-based geriatric assessment center.
Two hundred forty-two consecutive participants with Mini-Mental Status Examination scores of < or = 24.
Proxy-reported alcohol intake was classified in categories of never, former, light (< 1 drink/week), moderate (> or = 1 but < 14 drinks/week), and heavy (> or = 14 drinks/week) drinkers, and functional status was determined by proxy-reported performance in seven basic (BADL) and seven instrumental (IADL) activities of daily living (0 = poorest function and 14 = best function).
Compared with never drinkers, moderate drinkers demonstrated higher mean BADL (12.2 vs 11.4, P = .033) and IADL scores (6.6 vs 5.6, P = .067), whereas heavy drinkers had higher BADL (12.8 vs 11.4, P = .019) but lower IADL scores (4.8 vs 5.6, P = .425). Former drinkers demonstrated both lower BADL (10.8 vs 11.4, P = .107) and IADL scores (3.9 vs 5.6, P = .011) compared with never drinkers. Evaluation of a potential dose-response effect was limited due to low numbers of light and heavy drinkers.
Among cognitively impaired adults, moderate and heavy drinkers demonstrated better BADL function, whereas former drinkers had poorer IADL function, compared with never drinkers. Prospective studies that incorporate additional measures of exposure (e.g., cumulative lifetime consumption) and function (e.g., performance-based tests) may provide a more comprehensive understanding of alcohol's effects among older cognitively impaired adults.