Functional Independence in the Community Dwelling Older People: a Scoping Review

Authors Esther Molenaar, Di-Janne Barten, Saskia te Velde, Liedeke van Schoot, Nienke Bleijenberg, Niek de Wit, Cindy Veenhof
Published in Journal of Population Ageing
Publication date 24 November 2020
Research groups Innovation of Movement Care
Type Article


Ageing potentially poses a threat to independent functioning of older adults. Although clinicians commonly focus on physical factors limiting Functional Independence (FI), it is likely that personal and environmental interactions also seem important to maintain FI. Herewith, FI exceeds several professional borders and calls for a uniform, multidisciplinary interdisciplinary supported definition of FI. This study aims to provide such a definition of FI in community dwelling older people. A scoping review was performed. Pubmed/Medline, Psychinfo and CINAHL were searched for studies describing aspects of FI. A literature-based definition of FI was discussed by experts (n = 7), resulting in a formulated final definition of FI and insight into contributing factors to FI. A multidisciplinairy focusgroup a stakeholder consultation (n = 15) ensured clinical relevance for daily practice. Data from the focusgroup stakeholder consultation were analyzed by using Atlas.ti (version 8). Based on the literature search, 25 studies were included. FI was finally defined as “Functioning physically safely and independent from another person, within one’s own context”. The contributing factors of FI comprised physical capacity combined with coping, empowerment and health literacy. Moreover, the level of FI is influenced by someone’s own context. This study confirms the relevance of the physical aspect of FI, but additionally stresses the importance of psychological factors. In addition, this study shows that one’s context may affect the level of FI as well. This underlines the importance of a holistic view and calls for multidisciplinary interdisciplinary collaboration in community-dwelling older people.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Journal of Population Ageing
Key words functional independence, Older adults, Independence, interprofessional relations, prevention, holistic care, patient centered care
Digital Object Identifier 10.1007/s12062-020-09315-1

Esther Molenaar

Esther Molenaar

Esther Molenaar

  • PhD candidate
  • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care