Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Independence in oldsters

When my Mom asked me if all the old ladies in the nursing home dining hall had committed some sort of crime, she was struggling with the delusion that she and they had landed in some sort of correctional facility. My first thought was that their only 'crime' was to have outlived their independence. Women live longer than men, AND they also live longer with disability.

A study from the journal Hypertension holds particular interest, then, for us aging ladies. Boston doctors studied a group of persons in their late 60s and beyond, looking for a correlation between hypertension--particularly 'uncontrolled hypertension' defined as 140/90 and above--and the inability to be independent in activities of daily living.

They found that the presence of hypertension, controlled or un-, increased the likelihood of disability by a factor of 1.3. If the blood pressure was uncontrolled-- and their definition of uncontrolled is met by many of the elderly I see in the office--the risk rose even higher.

If you're interested in the threshold you'd cross to be defined as dependent in your daily routine, check-out Katz' Activities of Daily Living Scale.

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