Changes in Physical Functioning and Fall-Related Factors in Older Adults Due to COVID-19 Social Isolation
Keywords:COVID-19, social isolation, older adults, functional capacity, concern about falling
Social isolation has been one of the main measures for the prevention of COVID-19. It’s possible that, in addition to the natural aging-related deficits, social isolation has accelerated the decline of the different components of physical and mental capacity in older adults. This study aimed to compare the functional capacity and concern about falling in older adults before and during COVID-19 social isolation.
This observational longitudinal study was carried out with 45 community dwelling older adults (mean age 65.6 ± 4.6 years, 88.8% women). Functional capacity and concerns about falling assessments were carried out before the COVID-19 pandemic, and between the 16th and 18th week of social isolation. All testes were face-to-face, except the second FES-I assessment, which took place via telephone call in order to minimize a prolonged person-to-person contact. Muscle strength, muscle power, functional mobility, functional muscle fitness, upper and lower body flexibility, dynamic balance, and Efficacy Scale were assessments.
Regarding functional capacity, there was 14% decline in muscle strength (p<.001), 7% in power (p=.001), 11% in functional mobility (p=.001), 20% in functional muscle fitness (p=.001), and 60% in upper body flexibility (p=.001) and 33% lower body flexibility (p=.003). The dynamic balance and the concern about falling showed no statistically significant differences.
Thus, it can be concluded that there was a decline in older adults’ functional capacity during COVID-19 social isolation.
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