Original articleStair Negotiation Time in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Normative Values and Association With Functional Decline
Review articleOpen access

AbstractOh-Park M, Wang C, Verghese J. Stair negotiation time in community-dwelling older adults: normative values and association with functional decline.ObjectivesTo establish reference values for stair ascent and descent times in community-dwelling, ambulatory older adults, and to examine their predictive validity for functional decline.DesignLongitudinal cohort study. Mean follow-up time was 1.8 years (maximum, 3.2y; total, 857.9 person-years).SettingCommunity sample.ParticipantsAdults 70 years and older (N=513; mean age, 80.8±5.1y) without disability or dementia.InterventionsNot applicable.Main Outcome MeasuresTime to ascend and descend 3 steps measured at baseline. A 14-point disability scale assessed functional status at baseline and at follow-up interviews every 2 to 3 months. Functional decline was defined as an increase in the disability score by 1 point during the follow-up period.ResultsThe mean±SD stair ascent and descent times for 3 steps were 2.78±1.49 and 2.83±1.61 seconds, respectively. The proportion of self-reported and objective difficulty was higher with longer stair ascent and descent times (P<.001 for trend for both stair ascent and descent). Of the 472 participants with at least 1 follow-up interview, 315 developed functional decline, with a 12-month cumulative incidence of 56.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 52.1%–61.3%). The stair negotiation time was a significant predictor of functional decline after adjusting for covariates including gait velocity (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] per 1-s increase: aHR=1.12 [95% CI, 1.04–1.21] for stair ascent time; aHR=1.15 [95% CI, 1.07–1.24] for stair descent time). Stair descent time was a significant predictor of functional decline among relatively high functioning older adults reporting no difficulty in stair negotiation (P=.001).ConclusionsThe stair ascent and descent times are simple, quick, and valid clinical measures for assessing the risk of functional decline in community-dwelling older adults including high-functioning individuals.

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