Background: Knowledge of how intrinsic capacity (IC) and neighbourhood physical environment shape functional ability (FA) trajectories in later life remains understudied. We investigated four-year trajectories of IC and their impact on FA trajectories and the association between neighbourhood physical environment and FA trajectories among community-dwelling older adults in Hong Kong, China.
Methods: We conducted a four-wave longitudinal study from 2014 to 2017 in Hong Kong with 2,081 adults aged 65 and above. FA was assessed by The Chinese Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale. We used cognition, affect, locomotion, sensory capacity, and vitality to capture the multiple domains of IC. Neighbourhood physical environment attributes included green space, land use diversity, and availability of facilities, assessed within 200- and 500-meter buffers of respondents’ homes. We used the parallel process of latent growth curve model.
Findings: IC (Unstandardized coefficient, β = −0.02, p<0.001) and FA (β = −0.20, p<0.001) each decreased significantly over time. Individuals with declines in IC experienced a faster decline in FA over time. Green space within a 200-meter buffer (β = 1.15, p = 0.023), the number of leisure (β = 0.03, p = .0.043) and public transport (β = 0.08, p = .0.003) facilities within a 500-meter buffer slowed the rate of FA decline.
Interpretation: The level of FA decreased over time in later life. Changes in IC shaped FA trajectories. Increased residential green space and the number of leisure and public transport facilities in the neighbourhood may help slow FA decline over time.
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