The relationship between cognitive function and performance in instrumental activities of daily living in older adults

Cheryl Toth, Nikki Tulliani, Michelle Bissett, Karen P.Y. Liu (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Deficits in cognition have been found to be associated with problems in performing daily activities; however, it is unknown what specific domains of cognition are related to each daily activity. Method: Thirty-six occupational therapists identified the 20 most important instrumental activities of daily living for older adults and the cognitive demands required. Thirty-two older adults rated the perceived mental effort when performing these activities. They were assessed on their cognitive functions. Descriptive statistics were used to report the results. The Pearson correlation coefficient was used to identify relationships between cognitive functions and perceived mental effort. Results: Activities relating to ‘communication’, ‘financial management’, ‘health management’ and ‘safety and emergency management’ require more cognitive demands. Results from the older adults showed the highest significant correlations in immediate memory and ‘paying bills’ (r = 0.54), delayed memory and ‘following emergency procedures’ and ‘paying bills’ (rs = 0.52), and executive functioning and ‘making and keeping medical appointments’ (r = −0.49). Conclusion: Findings contribute to the emerging understanding of specific cognitive domains related to the instrumental activities of daily living. The results can be used to reframe and improve intervention strategies for individuals with cognitive decline to maintain or improve performance in daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-129
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive function
  • Instrumental activities of daily living
  • mental effort
  • occupational therapists
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship between cognitive function and performance in instrumental activities of daily living in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this