Objective: This pilot trial examined the feasibility and effectiveness of “Ageing Well,” a community-based program for improving cognitive skills and mobility of rural older people.
Design and setting: The non-randomised, wait-list–controlled pilot trial was conducted at a regional NSW university clinic.
Participants: Twenty-three community-dwelling adults aged 60+ who had begun to experience a decline in their physical or cognitive abilities or both.
Interventions: Dual-tasking activities simultaneously challenged participants' motor and cognitive abilities. Student facilitators encouraged participants to progress through increasing complex functional tasks in a range of contexts, including a café, supermarket and a simulated “home.”.
Main outcome measures: The Patient Reported Evaluation of Cognitive State measured the impact of an individual's cognitive state in terms of how much they were “bothered” by problems with their cognition. Functional mobility was measured by the Timed Up-and-Go, a test of static and dynamic balance, and the Six Minute Walk Test.
Results: Intervention participants' Patient Reported Evaluation of Cognitive State ratings in relation to impacts on their performance of everyday skills improved substantially, whereas the control group did not change. Intervention participants walked 12% further in the Six Minute Walk Test post-intervention, while the control group distance did not change. Timed Up-and-Go time was reduced by 1 second in the intervention group.
Conclusions: There is a strong interest in this dual-tasking program among older community-dwelling residents in this rural setting. The results of this pilot study support the feasibility and effectiveness of the Ageing Well program. But further trials are warranted.