Cluster analysis of physical and cognitive ageing patterns in older people from Shanghai

This study investigated the relationship between education, cognitive and physical function in older age, and their respective impacts on activities of daily living (ADL). Data on 148 older participants from a community-based sample recruited in Shanghai, China, included the following measures: age, education, ADL, grip strength, balance, gait speed, global cognition and verbal memory. The majority of participants in the present cohort were cognitively and physically healthy and reported no problems with ADL. Twenty-eight percent of participants needed help with ADL, with the majority of this group being over 80 years of age. Significant predictors of reductions in functional independence included age, balance, global cognitive function (MMSE) and the gait measures. Cluster analysis revealed a protective effect of education on cognitive function that did not appear to extend to physical function. Consistency of such phenotypes of ageing clusters in other cohort studies may provide helpful models for dementia and frailty prevention measures.