Our understanding of age-related declines in upper limb proprioceptive abilities is limited. Furthermore, the extent to which physical activity might ameliorate age-related changes in proprioception is not known. Upper limb proprioceptive acuity was examined in young and older (active and sedentary) right-handed adults using a wrist-position-matching task that varied in terms of processing demands. Older individuals were also classified according to their participation in tasks specific to the upper limb. Errors were greater for older than younger individuals. Older sedentary adults showed greater errors and performed movements less smoothly than older active adults. The nonspecific group showed greater errors and longer movement times than the upper-limb-specific group. In older adults, decreased ability to perceive limb position may be related to a sedentary lifestyle and declines associated with memory and transfer of proprioceptive information. Performing tasks specific to the upper limbs may reduce age-related declines in proprioception.
Diane E. Adamo, Neil B. Alexander and Susan H. Brown
Diane E. Adamo, Susan Ann Talley and Allon Goldberg
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.