Age-related changes in physical abilities, such as strength and flexibility, contribute to functional losses. However, older individuals may be unaware of what specific physical abilities compromise independent functioning. Three groups of women, aged 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and 80 to 92 years, were administered the Senior Fitness Test (SFT) to determine age differences in physical abilities and risk for functional losses. The oldest group showed significant differences in lower body strength, aerobic endurance, and agility and dynamic balance when compared with the other groups who performed similarly. Across all groups, a faster rate of decline was found for lower body strength (50.6%) and dynamic balance and agility (45.7%) than upper body strength (21.3%) and aerobic endurance (33.6%). Criterion-referenced (CR) fitness standards suggested that 45% of the individuals were at risk for loss of independent functioning. This study highlights age-related differences in physical abilities and the risk for the loss of independence in later life.
Adamo is with Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. Talley and Goldberg are with the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint, MI. Address author correspondence to Diane E. Adamo at firstname.lastname@example.org.