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Questionnaire-based evaluation of everyday competence in older adults

Authors Kalisch T, Richter J, Lenz M, Kattenstroth J, Kolankowska I, Tegenthoff M, Dinse HR

Published 26 January 2011 Volume 2011:6 Pages 37—46


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Tobias Kalisch1, Julia Richter3, Melanie Lenz1, Jan-Christoph Kattenstroth2, Izabela Kolankowska2, Martin Tegenthoff1, Hubert R Dinse2
1Department of Neurology, BG-Kliniken Bergmannsheil, 2Neural Plasticity Lab, Institute for Neuroinformatics, Department of Theoretical Biology, 3Faculty of Psychology, Department of Methods, Diagnostics and Evaluation, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Background: Gerontological research aims at understanding factors that are crucial for mediating “successful aging”. This term denotes the absence of significant disease and disabilities, maintenance of high levels of physical and cognitive function, and preservation of social and productive activities. Preservation of an active lifestyle is considered an effective means through which everyday competence can be attained. In this context, it is crucial to obtain ratings of modern day older adults’ everyday competence by means of appropriate assessments. Here, we introduce the Everyday Competence Questionnaire (ECQ), designed to assess healthy older adults' everyday competence.
Methods: The ECQ includes 17 items, covering housekeeping, leisure activities, sports, daily routines, manual skills, subjective well-being, and general linguistic usage. The ECQ was administered to a population of 158 healthy subjects aged 60–91 years, who were divided into groups on the basis of their physical activity. These groups were community-dwelling subjects, those living independently and having a sedentary lifestyle, those living independently but characterized by a general lifestyle without any noteworthy physical activity, and those living independently and exercising regularly. Age, gender, and education levels were balanced between the groups.
Results: Using the ECQ, we could identify and distinguish different everyday competence levels between the groups tested: Subjects characterized by an active lifestyle outperformed all other groups. Subjects characterized by a general lifestyle showed higher everyday competence than those with a sedentary lifestyle or subjects who needed care. Furthermore, the ECQ data showed a significant positive correlation between individual physical activity and everyday competence.
Conclusion: The ECQ is a novel tool for the questionnaire-based evaluation of everyday competence among healthy subjects. By including leisure activities, it considers the changed living conditions of modern-day older adults.

Keywords: successful aging, everyday competence, questionnaire-based evaluation

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